Go back to the Prologue – Chapter Four
* * * *
July 10, 1996
Draco Malfoy was in the kitchen with Harry—they were moving around each other as if they had been doing it for years. It was the first time Molly had seen them since Malfoy’s arrival. They’d stayed on the fourth floor behind the family wards for almost two full days; having Dobby or Kreacher bring their meals no matter how often she’d complained about it. Molly stared at them for a long time, watching them tease each other gently and every time they touched a little spark of gold brushed over the skin that had met no matter how briefly. It was enlightening to say the least. There hadn’t been any gold light the first night that she could remember when they greeted each other upon Malfoy’s arrival.
Harry turned and snagged Malfoy’s waist as he slid around him. He pulled him close and pressed a warm affectionate kiss on Draco’s mouth. The blond laughed and hooked his fingers in the belt loops of Harry’s jeans.
“You taste good,” Harry murmured.
“I’ve been sneaking some of the coffee you had Dobby buy.”
“Cinnamon is your favorite,” Harry responded. “I figured you might like a little taste of home in this strange, strange world we find ourselves in.” He leaned in and kissed him again.
Molly’s breath caught as a bright rush of gold light flashed over both young men. They jerked apart and turned to stare at her. Harry figured he needed to seriously work on his situational awareness. He hadn’t known she was there. “Oh, boys.” She rushed in and hugged them both before either could protest. “You poor dears, having to hide something so beautiful and special!”
Draco didn’t struggle against Molly’s hug but shared a look of shock and horror with Harry. In the previous timeline, Molly Weasley had been a nightmare to deal with because she’d been so invested in Harry being with Ginny.
“Mrs. Weasley,” Harry began as he stepped back from her. “We’re worried about our relationship being used against one or both of us. I’ve spent quite a few days lying to everyone about my partner to keep him safe.”
“He’s your partner as well? That makes sense.” Molly nodded and seemed to think about it. “But I wouldn’t worry, dears—you’ve clearly already achieved a soul mate bond. Interference in the bond of a fated pair can be extremely dangerous. I understand why you didn’t say anything while he was still living under his father’s influence but things are different now.” She touched Draco’s cheek and offered him a sad smile. “I’m glad you are safe now, young man, but I’m sorry for what it took for that to be so.”
“What if someone tried to kill Draco?” Harry questioned.
“If it was their intent to kill him in order to harm you… it would be considered bond interference. The act alone could be extremely dangerous. Magic understands intent.” Molly shifted towards the stove and smoothly took over the pancakes Harry had been making. “Oh, blueberries.”
“I had Dobby go get us some. He was sad that I didn’t let him cook so I had to promise he could make lunch.”
Molly shared a grin with Harry. “I let him cook last night. He was all put out, standing there in his little trousers and Tri-Wizard Tournament t-shirt. I could hardly say no to him.”
Harry laughed. “You should try the coffee, it’s really good.” He made himself a cup of tea and joined Draco at the table. “I thought… well, I thought you’d be upset. I always believed you wanted me to date and marry Ginny.”
“Well, I had always hoped you would marry into my family so I could mother you properly,” Molly admitted with a disappointed sigh. “But magic has given you a soul mate, Harry, and no one will ever love you so much as he will.” She set a plate in front of Draco and then one in front of Harry before going back to the stove. “You eat up this fantastic breakfast you started while I finish it off for everyone else. I have a feeling you’ll both need the strength of a good meal before everything is said and done. Then we can talk about how you can hide that pretty little gold glow thing you do when you touch.”
“We glow all over?” Draco demanded, pretending to be horrified. “Before it was just little flashes.”
“Yes, I didn’t notice it the night when you first arrived. This morning you seem relaxed and comfortable. We can check the library for information. It may be a matter of mental or emotional control.” She blushed suddenly. “Or your incomplete bond.”
“Incomplete bond,” Harry said deadpan. He laughed internally and wondered if she’d go so far as to suggest they consummate their physical relationship. He’d been very careful that first night not to touch Draco’s skin in front of the Order. He couldn’t imagine the mess that would’ve made upon Draco’s arrival.
“Yes, we’ll read up on it dear and find a solution so you’ll both be safe. Unless it’s just a manifestation of your archmagus…” She glanced at Draco. “I trust your maturation is complete?” She cleared her throat as the door swung open and Hermione entered with Ron and Ginny. “Alright, you lot, pancakes and bacon. Make your own tea or get juice from the cold cabinet.”
Ginny slid into the chair next to hair and shifted closer so her arm brushed against Harry’s. Harry hissed at the unexpected pain and grabbed his arm as his skin started to burn. “What the hell?”
Molly rushed forward and grabbed his wrist gently. She turned his arm and frowned at the reddened skin before looking at her daughter. “Have you changed your soap or skin lotion, dear?”
Ginny shrugged, her gaze narrowing in anger. “No, Mum.”
“Well, Harry is having some kind of skin reaction to your touch. I’ve never seen anything so immediate before. Be careful not to touch him anymore until we can figure out what caused that reaction.” Molly pulled her wand and cast a healing charm on the skin and it smoothed out immediately. “I’ll check your lotion and soap to make sure the ingredients haven’t been changed.”
“I can’t touch Harry,” Ginny repeated shocked. “Are you serious?”
“Well, unless it is your intention to hurt him,” Draco said coolly. His fingers tightened around his fork and he went back to his food without waiting for a response.
Ginny shifted away from Harry and glared at Draco but didn’t say anything to Malfoy directly. “Harry, Hermione mentioned you were going to try to take Ancient Runes. Maybe you’ll be in the class with me instead of getting into the sixth year class.”
“I’ll have no problems getting into the sixth year class,” Harry responded. He dragged his bacon through his syrup and then munched on it thoughtfully. “Professor Babbling was really pleased with my essay questions and said that she thought I could pass the written portion of the NEWT with an Acceptable now. She expects an O after two years under her thumb.”
“Did she send you the supply list for her class?” Ron asked.
“Yeah,” Harry nodded. “I have to buy a special set of carving tools and a series of blank runic stones for my individual project. I also need a runic quill.”
“What about Arithmancy?”
“I’ve added the book for sixth year to my list so even if Professor Vector turns me down I’ll be able to study on my own.” Harry reached out to the platter and grabbed some more bacon. He put half on Draco’s plate. “Eat; you need a full stomach for your next set of potions.”
Draco shot him a dirty look but cut into the meat with his knife. “I need to go to the bank today. Severus and Dumbledore will be taking me. I think you should go as well.”
“I agree,” Molly said from the stove. “You’ll want to settle matters and retrieve your ring so you can invoke your family magic at home where it is safe to do so. With your core mature, you should have no problem claiming the ring today instead of waiting for your birthday.”
“There is no telling what kind of reaction you’ll have,” Draco muttered. “We should ask Sirius about using the ritual room in the basement. You’d probably bring the house down otherwise.”
Harry laughed before he could help himself and reached out to touch Draco. His fingers drifted over the top of the blonde’s hand and gold light flashed at the contact. He jerked his hand away immediately and glanced around the table. Ron and Ginny were both focused on their food but Hermione was staring at them in shock. He shook his head abruptly and she nodded numbly. Harry knew she’d immediately connected the little flash of light with what had happened in the infirmary.
“Are you sure you should claim your title before your seventeenth birthday?” Ginny asked. “You might have marriage contracts attached to it.”
“Fudge is playing the game on my side currently but I don’t want to give him a chance to undermine my position in the wizarding world,” Harry explained. “As to the other, because of my archmagus partner—all contracts with my name on them are null and void. Any that are generic will pass to one of my own children.”
“What do you mean null and void?” Ginny asked. “What does your archmagus partner have to do with you getting married?”
Harry stared at her and then frowned slightly. “Well, traditionally, archmagus partners are all things to each other. Neither he nor I would ever bring a third into our partnership.”
“A third,” Ginny said dully. “You act like you’re in some kind of relationship with this other wizard.”
Harry chose to ignore it. He wasn’t prepared to discuss his intimate relationships with anyone. “I wonder who will be our DADA teacher this year. The last two have tried to kill or maim me for life… so I don’t look forward to it.”
He sighed and looked at Ginny who was frowning at him. “Yeah?”
“You’re not in a relationship with this other boy.”
“I’m not willing to discuss this with you, Ginny. It’s none of your business.”
“No buts,” Harry said firmly.
“I want to know what you’re talking about,” Ginny snapped.
“Hush,” Molly began. “Harry’s relationship with his archmagus partner is private and none of your business. Am I understood, Ginerva?”
“Yes, mum.” She glared briefly at Draco before concentrating on her food. “Can we go to Diagon Alley with Harry today?”
“No, of course not, I’ve already purchased your school supplies and Harry’s business in the bank is personal. I’m sure the Headmaster and Sirius can help him if he has any questions.” Molly refilled several juice cups and sat down with her own breakfast. “Now, Harry, you’ll want to go to your family vault after you claim your inheritance to see what your parents left for you there. It will be different from your trust vault.”
“How?” Harry asked. He nudged Draco who was extremely amused by Harry’s feigned ignorance.
“Well, the Potter family has been titled for many hundreds years—you are a Peer of the Realm both in the magical world and in the Muggle world. Your estate has been in a suspended state since your father’s death. Your account manager’s name is Master Sharprock. I know this because I asked Bill. It’s not private information. I promise I’ve never received or requested private information on your accounts from Bill. I did want to make sure that your accounts were safe since the goblins and the Headmaster don’t always get along.”
Harry nodded. It had been Molly and Bill’s casual interest of his accounts that had ended up protecting his interests in the wizarding world. Sharprock had notified him and Bill Weasley both when the Minister had filed his claim to the Potter estate. The goblins hadn’t been thrilled with the Ministry for attempting to steal from the man who had defeated Voldemort no matter how they personally felt about Harry. It had eventually cost Minister his job. Rufus hadn’t been at all forgiving—Harry had been forced to kill him when the man attacked him in public.
“So, how long?” Ron demanded. “How long have the two of you been friends?”
“I met Draco on Diagon Alley the day that Hagrid introduced me to the magical world,” Harry said.
“But you hate him,” Ron protested.
“No, I hate two people on this whole planet, Ron, and Voldemort is one.” Harry paused and rubbed his thumb around the edge of his glass. “Vernon Dursley is the other. I disliked Draco’s behavior, but I never hated him. In fact, he was the first person I met in the magical world besides Hagrid who treated me normally—he didn’t care that I was famous. He didn’t ask to see my scar. He didn’t ask me what I remembered about my parents’ murder.”
“No, he was just a complete prat instead,” Ron said mulishly.
“He was but we mended fences during fourth year after the second task,” Harry said smoothly picking up the lie that Draco had told Snape easily and incorporating into their public fictional history. “I didn’t tell you then because you’d already… been something of an arse that year anyway. As for last year, we kept it a secret because his father would’ve reacted very poorly to it.”
“He certainly would have,” Draco agreed. He picked up his plate as he stood and gathered Harry’s dishes as well. He put them in the sink and activated the cleaning rune without another word. “Potter, you can borrow some of my clothes. We should be close to the same size. We don’t want the goblins to feel sorry for you because you’re wearing your whale of a cousin’s clothes. We can take measurements and send them to Madame Malkin later in the week. Dobby can get us a catalogue for home shopping.”
Harry laughed and watched his lover glide out of the kitchen. “Nothing green!”
“Blue? You look hot in blue!” Draco called out airily as he disappeared up the stairs.
“I look hot in everything!”
“You’re…” Ginny trailed off, clearly coming to a realization it took her nearly eight years to come to in the previous timeline. “Are you a poofter?”
Harry’s eyes widened briefly at the word. “I’m not sure how it goes in the magical world, Ginerva, but that word is an insult in the Muggle world. It’s discriminatory and offensive.” He glanced towards Molly and saw that she was glaring at Ginny. “Right, well, I’ll leave you two to have that conversation. Just don’t use that word around me again if you expect us to be friends.” He stood and put his cup in the sink; the still active cleaning charm started cleaning the cup immediately.
“But you can’t be gay!” Ginny said at a near wail. “You’re… none of the books…”
“Oh, for the love of Merlin,” Harry said exasperated. “I’m going to sue the people who wrote and published those books, ya know, because not a one of them is true. I grew up beaten and starved living in a cupboard under the stairs in my Muggle relatives’ normal house, surrounded by people who hated me and wished I was dead. The first time I saw an adult dragon was during the tournament and the only adventures I have ever been on were with Hermione and Ron. I wouldn’t have survived any of it without them.” He braced himself on the counter. “The Boy-Who-Lived is a myth.”
“That’s not true—you defeated Voldemort that night.”
“My mother defeated Voldemort that night—it was her magic and her sacrifice that allowed me to live,” Harry corrected gently. “If I had defeated him that night—it would have been over. He never would have been able to return.”
“Is Malfoy your archmagus partner?” Ginny demanded. “Did he convince you had to be gay with him? Because that’s just wrong and horrible. None of the legends say you have to be in a relationship with your casting partner.”
“It is none of your business what Malfoy is to me, Ginny.” He stared at her—seeing the calculation and the disagreement brewing on her face. “I’m gay. The only girl I’ve ever had any kind of feelings for is Hermione and I was just confused because I’d never had anyone I could consider a sister. I’ve never had any desire whatsoever to kiss her or any other girl. I wouldn’t have taken anyone to the Yule Ball during fourth year at all if Professor McGonagall hadn’t told me I was required to bring a partner to the stupid thing.”
“But…” She huffed. “It doesn’t make any sense; you don’t have any problems getting a girl so you shouldn’t be gay.”
“Ginny!” Hermione shouted obviously horrified. “It isn’t like he made some choice. He was born that way—he was always gay even if he didn’t know it.”
“That’s nonsense,” Ginny returned. “Wizards go gay because they can’t get a witch to be with them. Everyone knows that.”
Hermione stared at her for a minute and then looked at Harry who was more amused than anything else. “They really think that way?”
“Some do, yes,” Harry admitted. “It doesn’t help that a lot of wizards are at the very least bisexual. Homophobia apparently isn’t much of an issue in the magical world but they do have some rather daft ideas about biology. But then that’s to be expected, I mean many Pure-bloods think it’s perfectly okay to marry your cousins and even half-siblings if they don’t share the same father.”
Hermione made a disgusted face and shuddered. “Oh, seriously.”
“Seriously,” Harry said without hesitation. “Many Pure-blood family trees have a horrific lack of branching, Hermione. In order to keep themselves pure, they marry into their own families. That’s why most of them are related to each other. I imagine that I’m a cousin of some sort to the Weasleys. I’m loosely related to several Pure-blood families on my father’s side including the Pruitts and the Blacks and the Malfoys, at least by marriage. Draco and I haven’t found a common blood ancestor, yet.”
“But… incest… deformities…”
“Squibs,” Harry said and watched the logic of the situation dawn on Hermione’s face. “If you wanted to truly help the magical world, Hermione, you would find some way to introduce modern genetics so these people stop marrying their family. Many Pure-blood families have bred themselves into extinction.”
“What are you two on about?” Ron asked.
Hermione flushed. “Muggles figured out over a hundred years ago that marrying and having children with people you are closely related to can cause mutations—it could be where squibs come from. It would probably lead to magically weak children and even a much lower birth rate. Obviously, not a problem in the Weasley family—your family is both fertile and magically powerful. But some Pure-blood families who won’t even allow half-bloods to marry into their family are probably breeding themselves into a situation where their family line and magic will die out completely. It would require research of course, but it could be one of the reasons why our class at Hogwarts was one of the smallest on record in our history. You could chalk it up to the war but it wouldn’t necessarily explain why there were twenty Muggle-borns sorted last year and only fifteen Pure-bloods. The rest were half-blood.”
“Oh.” Molly nodded. “Well, that is certainly something that would be helpful, Hermione. Unfortunately research done by the Ministry is often controlled by Pure-bloods so they don’t even look towards Muggles for answers.”
“You are not gay!” Ginny shouted. “You’re just not.”
“I am,” Harry said casually. “Just complete gay. Girls are lovely, I guess, as long as I don’t have to touch or kiss them. I really don’t like doing that at all. At first, I thought I was just emotionally damaged because of how I was raised but then after some thought I realized I had no problems being attracted to boys. It’s just girls I don’t like. Dating Cho last year pretty much helped me come to terms with that.”
“You just need a mind healer,” Ginny argued. “You’re just… maybe it’s spell damage.”
“But as I said the only person I ever had any kind of romantic feelings for besides my archmagus partner was Hermione and that was during second year—when she was petrified I was very worried about her. She’s been a little piece of family for me since that night I stuck my wand up a troll’s nose for her.”
Hermione blushed prettily and then laughed. “That’s so sweet, Harry. You’re like a brother to me, too. I’m sure I’ll find some way to get along with Malfoy if you’re serious about him.”
“I can’t.” Ron frowned. He shook his head, thoroughly disgusted. “I can’t stand it Harry and I can’t see how I can accept you being with a slimy snake. He’s evil just like his father. I don’t know how you can stand to even be near him knowing how dark his family is. What is your archmagus partner going to think? Have you kept it a secret from him, too?”
“Sirius’ family is dark—his cousin serves Voldemort now. His younger brother was a Death Eater when he died. Am I to judge my godfather by the rest of his family as well?”
“It isn’t the same at all. Malfoy is going to stab you in the back and I’m sorry but I can’t support you being in a relationship like that.”
“You mean you think he’s like you,” Harry said neutrally. “You turned on me fourth year without blinking an eye. Laughed at the verbal abuse I had to suffer from half the bloody school, and didn’t even apologize until after I survived the first task. Last year, you often distanced yourself from me in public despite the fact that you knew I was telling the truth. Well, frankly Ron if that is the kind of friendship I have to look forward to from you—perhaps it’s best that whatever friendship we have left die right here in this kitchen.”
“You don’t mean that. I’ve been your best mate since first year!”
“You’ve been my best mate when it is convenient for you to be. You’re happy with me as long as I don’t garner too much attention unless it’s for Quidditch and even then I’m only allowed to be successful—God forbid I talk about it too much. Don’t think I didn’t notice how pissed off you got last year when you found out that a scout from the professional league had been to two of my games to watch me.”
“You get everything!” Ron protested.
Harry sighed. “Yes, congratulations, Harry Potter. Instead of grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings to love you –we’re going to give you a pile of gold, a decent ability to fly, a strong magical core built on ten years of physical abuse, and a psychopath intent on murdering you before you reach your majority.” He huffed when Ron’s mouth dropped open in shock. “Mrs. Weasley, Draco and I will be in the library researching that thing you mentioned if you want to help us with it later.”
“Of course, dear.”
* * * *
“Nothing.” Draco closed another book and set aside. “It looks likes the Blacks didn’t put much stock in magical bonds.”
“They are for the pure of heart,” Molly said absently and then blushed furiously when Sirius started laughing. “I didn’t…”
“Oh, yes, you did.” Sirius laughed heartily. “It’s true, too. No one pure of heart would have lasted to adulthood in my family.” He pulled a book from his pile and passed it to Draco. “Try this one on druid magic.”
“Oh.” Hermione, who had joined them later in the morning, sat up straight in her chair. “Oh, dear.” She blushed furiously and pushed the book across the table to Molly.
Molly raised an eyebrow and took the book. She cleared her throat. “Hmm, the mating of two souls requires three essential elements—profound romantic love by both parties, magical compatibility as created by fate, and the willingness to forsake all potential future romantic partners for eternity. Souls, once bound, are eternally linked. As the eternal pair moves throughout their lifetimes, they will naturally come together and bond upon their first kiss.” She glanced at the two boys. “Right, well, when you first kissed did you experience…” Her gaze dropped down the book. “…a feeling of completion and relief over finally finding their partner in magic and in life. This event is often accompanied by a soft golden light.”
“Something like that,” Harry muttered and Draco just nodded while averting his gaze.
She smiled. “That’s so charming boys.” She turned back to the book. “The first kiss seals the soul bond—creating an eternal and never ending spiritual and magical bond that is recognized as a marriage by Magic itself.” She paused and stared at them pointedly. “I forgive you for not inviting me to your wedding dears but I do think a nice bonding ceremony would be nice once you’re older. Your mother, Draco, will have ideas. We’ll talk about it later.”
“Of course, Mrs. Weasley,” Draco nodded. “I understand you have a beautiful apple orchard? Mother has always raved about how lovely it would be to have a wedding there.”
“Kiss arse,” Harry muttered under his breath.
“Right then,” Molly muttered as she started to read again. She was silent for a few more minutes then she gasped. “Oh.”
“Right.” Hermione nodded and blushed again.
“Well, then, it’s… I mean.” She huffed and shoved the book towards Sirius. “Last paragraph.”
“When soul bonded couples touch, they will emit a bright gold glow until their union is physically and magically consummated. This glow is both a warning to others and an indicator to the couple themselves. The warning is to insure that others realize that interfering in the pairing of a fated couple would be considered a crime against magic. Once the union is consummated, the couple will share pooled magic and magical abilities.”
“Oh.” Harry laughed. “So we’re glowing like fireflies because magic is encouraging us to mate physically because we already did the magical part.”
Draco grinned. “I used to chase fireflies.”
“I thought they were magic,” Harry admitted ruefully. “Sometimes, Aunt Petunia would make me stay outside at night if I did some imaginary thing to upset her during the day. I would catch fireflies because I thought they must be fairies. I told her that once and after that she stopped letting me outside at night.”
Draco stared at Harry. “Harry, they are a species of fairy. A very primitive species, mind you, as far as we know they can’t communicate and they have an extremely short life span. But they are magical.”
“But Muggles can see them,” Harry protested. He could hardly believe he’d never known that about fireflies.
“Right, well, there are some magical species that didn’t make it into the magical pact because they couldn’t communicate,” Sirius admitted. “When we made the choice to hide from the Muggle world—we took the magical creatures that could communicate and accept our protection with us. Unicorns, Veela, vampires, werewolves, dragons, giants, house elves, and goblins—there were others we hid because we felt we had no choice like Dementors and Lethifolds and Nundus. But others… refused or were deemed harmless and they weren’t hidden.”
“What else is magical?” Hermione questioned.
“Alligators and crocodiles are a species of dragon,” Draco offered. “Fireflies and owls, of course. All owls are magical and they chose to not be included in the pact. Because of that, they can move in and out of magical and Muggle worlds. It works to our benefit because they can deliver mail to Muggles that we have contact with. Though they have special charms now that protect them in a variety of ways from Muggles and they can’t be seen delivering mail by someone who doesn’t know about magic. The Ministry had to do that after Voldemort fell the first time because magicals sort of lost their minds the day after celebrating.” His fingers glanced over Harry’s wrist in silent apology.
“Of course, I said ‘we’ but it wasn’t wizard kind that created the protections that hide our magical communities from Muggles. The High Elves did that—they created magical sanctuaries for us and most magical creatures. Those creatures that were not dangerous or those who simply refused to be protected are allowed to wander between the two worlds,” Sirius said, gathering the books up to put away. “Right well, Harry, Draco—I believe that Severus and I should speak to you individually about what this means and then you can discuss it together. We’ll do that after the bank.”
* * * *
Harry’s hands trembled, fury burning in his gut on such a level that he could feel Draco responding to it from the opposite side of the bank where he’d gone with Severus Snape to handle the dissolution of the marriage contract with the Parkinsons. He didn’t know who he was more furious with—himself or the Goblins from the first timeline. Draco had been right, of course, he had damaged his relationship with the Horde beyond repair without even really trying.
He could’ve apologized and offered reparations for the damage he’d done to the bank when he broke in and stole the cup. He didn’t. He’d returned their hostility point for point—never giving an inch and at times using his magical power to bully them into doing what he wanted because he was foolish and immature. By the time he’d realized what his behavior was doing—it was too late.
There was an abrupt knock on the door and Draco entered without waiting for a response. It was rude but Sharprock said nothing. Probably, Harry thought, wildly because his magic was rolling off of him in invisible waves. There was a low rumble surrounding him—the kind he’d heard only twice before and both were times when he almost lost total control of his magic.
Draco dropped to his knees in front of Harry and pulled the document he was reading from his hands. He tossed it aside and grabbed Potter’s face. “Harry, look at me. Focus on me.”
Harry tried but Merlin he was so furious and hurt that he could barely think straight.
“Potter!” Draco snapped. “You’re going to hurt me if you don’t calm the fuck down!”
That was true—their bond was fragile right now. It hadn’t ever felt so fragile as it did in that moment. The golden light that he was almost used to seeing flared open around them and Harry shuddered. He pulled at his magic, tried to rein it in but it resisted. What most would never understand was that magic wanted to be free. Those who were the most adept at harnessing and using wild magic had a direct connection with Magic herself and she was beautifully feral.
“That’s it,” Draco murmured. “Just take a deep breath with me here, okay?”
“Sorry,” Harry whispered hoarsely. He leaned into Draco, ignoring the rest of their audience and pressed his face against Malfoy’s neck. “Did I hurt you?”
“No, of course not, sweetheart,” Draco whispered as he thread his fingers through Harry’s hair repeatedly. “Just breathe for me, okay? We can’t have you tearing down the bank—where would keep all of our lovely gold then?”
Harry laughed sadly and closed his eyes. In Parseltongue, he whispered, “These sons of bitches kept my ancestral home from me in the first timeline.”
Draco reared back in shock and stared at Harry’s face in shock. He responded in Parseltongue, “What?”
“My account manager is the Secret Keeper for Potter’s Keep. They never told me where it was,” Harry said his voice lowering with temper as he hissed. “My father didn’t claim the ring—they stole from me.”
Draco paled and exhaled sharply.
“Draco,” Snape began slowly. “Are the two of you aware that you’re speaking to each other in Parseltongue?”
Draco looked at his godfather briefly and nodded. “It is…” He paused and looked around. “I trust that what I say will remain in this room?”
“If it pertains to bank business, I might be required to report it to my supervisor but confidential matters are treated with the utmost care in the bank,” Sharprock said.
Draco nodded. “Very well. Harry is a wild mage and when he’s extremely upset he reverts to his first language.”
“And Parseltongue is his first language?” Sirius demanded, obviously slightly horrified.
“He was born a Parselmouth,” Draco said bluntly. “It’s always been with him—long before he learned to speak as a human being. I gained the ability through him—in our pooled magic.” He refocused on Harry—found that his eyes had slitted and a tiny bit of black showed between his lips—indicating that his tongue had shifted into his animagus form. “Many would find such information about their savior to be disturbing.”
“Word,” Snape muttered under his breath.
* * * *
After he’d calmed down and Draco had left his account manager’s office, Harry had made quite a few changes concerning his accounts that had shocked both Sharprock and Dumbledore while Sirius had simply been amused. He’d fired the wizard law firm that had handled his estate since his father’s death and hired another to sue the fuck out of practically everyone for abusing his name, likeness, and reputation. The Goblin had been giddy—Dumbledore had been aghast. In fact, Sharprock had been so happy he hadn’t even asked what had gotten Harry so upset when he’d been presented with the deed and portkey to Potter’s Keep.
His father’s ring had settled on him easily and the family magic had rushed gently over his core in a way that was almost loving. He knew that Draco’s experience had been nothing of the kind. The Malfoys were traditionally a dark family and their magic was heavy with it. It wouldn’t taint Draco, but it had been rougher on him. Despite Molly and Malfoy’s worries, Harry hadn’t felt that the ring would cause a dramatic shift in his magic and had slipped it on casually in his account manager’s office before anyone could protest. The lack of destruction had been a relief to everyone else.
Harry was sitting at a desk in the first floor library staring at the ledger Sharprock had given him when Ron found him.
“So, how much?”
Harry lifted his head and found Ron leaning in the doorway. “How much what?”
“How much did you get in the estate?”
Harry frowned at his friend and sighed. He flipped the ledger to the end and cleared his throat. “You’ll be thrilled to note that my murdered parents were worth a little over a half billion galleons when Voldemort attacked them. Most of the accounts have been frozen but interest rates have been kind to my trust fund—the estate hasn’t lost money while it was in escrow.”
“A half billion galleons,” Ron repeated and snorted. “You don’t even appreciate what you have.”
“You don’t either,” Harry said without hesitation. “I would give up every bit of it for a day with my parents. Your jealousy is a slap in the face of your parents, you know. How much is your mother worth, Ron? How about your father? What if I write you a bank draft? Say, ten million each? Is that enough for your parents? What would your brothers and sister cost? You can keep Aunt Muriel and Percy, of course. I don’t like either one of them. Maybe Ginny too because lately she’s been a pain in the arse.”
“What… you’re mental!”
“And you’re an idiot,” Harry snapped. “You actually think money is worth more than people.” He slouched down in his chair. “I own Cleansweep. I was so excited when I found out because I thought you’d think it was great and then I remembered… that you’re not really my friend and maybe you never were.”
“I was your friend from the start!” Ron shouted.
“You were and then something stupid happened and I don’t know what it was. You were there through first year—even if you were cruel to Hermione at first. You stood by me when the entire school thought I was the Heir of Slytherin because I was a Parselmouth.” Harry sighed. “Then, third year… when the Prophet started talking about me more and the Dementors were on the school grounds… you were there for that thing with Sirius and you helped us try to capture Pettigrew. You even drew your wand on Snape. What the hell happened to that kid, Ron? Where were you fourth year when I needed you? I had to stand in front of a goddamned dragon! And last year? And why was it harder to be my friend in public than it was in private? Afraid you’d end up under Umbridge’s blood quill, too?”
Ron flinched. “Harry…”
“No. Just no. Do you honestly think I enjoy being famous for something so fucking horrible as surviving my parents’ murders? Is that what you really think? Do you think I like being the center of attention of a bunch of people who don’t even know me? Do you think I like those witches at school staring after me and following me around like fan girls?”
“Well, not the fan girls, since you’re completely gay,” Ron said dryly and shoved his hands into his pockets. “No, I don’t think you’re happy being famous. I know you hate being the center of attention. It was stupid—the thing with the tournament. I really wanted to get into it but I knew I wouldn’t be chosen if I’d managed to get my name in that stupid goblet. I was horrified when your name came out of it and even when I was thinking you couldn’t possibly want it—stupid things were coming out of mouth anyway.”
“Right.” Harry shifted his chair around so he didn’t have to look at Ron. “I’m going to be in a war, Ron. I’m going to be the center of the war because Voldemort is obsessed with me. And truly, I don’t appreciate his crush on me either.”
“Well who would? He looks like a humanoid snake and he’s crazy.” Ron shrugged. “At least Malfoy’s pretty.”
“I really fucking resent that,” Draco said from the doorway. He glared at Ron and huffed. “Severus is here and he’s in the fourth floor library discussing the issue with Sirius.”
“What issue?” Ron asked, his gaze darting between them.
“I…” Harry shook his head. “You can’t control what comes out of your mouth, Ron. I’m not sure we can trust you with this. Right now, you’re calm and cool headed but next month I might piss you off and you’ll blab to everyone at Hogwarts.”
“You don’t trust me,” Ron accused.
“Jealousy is a dark path,” Harry finally said. “Peter Pettigrew was my dad’s friend—his friend for ten years and he took the Dark Mark to prove himself. Then he betrayed my parents and got them killed.”
“I would never…” Ron closed his eyes briefly. “But I’ve already betrayed you once, right? That’s the way you see it.”
“It’s the way it is,” Harry said neutrally.
Ron pulled out his wand and Harry’s flicked out of his sleeve in response under the desk. “I, Ronald Bilius Weasley, do solemnly swear on my magic to never seek allegiance or favor with the Dark Lord known as Voldemort.” The vow settled around him and Ron put away his wand. “I can’t promise to always take your side or be loyal to you, Harry, because I can’t approve of your personal choices. I don’t think there is anything you could say that would convince that Draco Malfoy isn’t already practically a Death Eater.”
“He’s my bonded fated soul mate and my archmagus partner,” Harry replied softly. “We are eternally bound in magic and in soul.”
“You’re mental,” Ron protested. “There is no way someone as dark as him could have a soul bond! They are for the purest, lightest souls! I can’t believe he’s an archmagus either. Why would magic gift something so amazing to his family? They’ve been dark for centuries!”
Harry sighed and stood. He walked to Draco and Malfoy shot him a hard look before allowing himself to be pulled in for a kiss. “Because we haven’t consummated the physical part of our union, we still glow gold when we touch and kiss.” He ran his fingers along Draco’s jaw and golden light sparked in the path he made. “If you can’t trust my judgment, Ron, you could at least put your faith in magic.” He leaned in and kissed him.
Draco shuddered and curled his fingers into the silk shirt he’d made Harry wear. Gold light swirled around them—heavy with soul magic and love. The light lingered on their skin as they parted. “You suck, Potter.”
“I’ve never heard you complain about that before,” Harry murmured for only him to hear and laughed as he walked away.
“That’s…” Ron sighed. “Wow. You really are completely gay, huh? Ginny isn’t going to believe this.”
“She doesn’t have to believe or accept it,” Harry returned evenly. “So, tell me, Ron… be honest… do you trust yourself to keep the fact that we are soul bound a secret or not? Because if you don’t and you mouth off in the middle of the Great Hall, you could get me killed next year.”
“How would it get you killed?”
“Soul bound couples live and die together,” Harry said softly. “If one of his dorm mates puts a knife in his back while he’s sleeping—it’ll kill us both.”
“Then he should be resorted into Gryffindor to keep you safe,” Ron responded. “Obviously you can’t go into Slytherin because they’d kill you. Once you… huh… consummate this thing you probably won’t be able to sleep far apart either. There is a history of resorting people for their own safety. It happened during the last war. His father’s death would be enough to activate that with the Sorting Hat.”
“That’s… actually quite smart,” Draco muttered. “But what about your dorm mates? They aren’t going to like me being there either.”
“They aren’t going to knife you in the back,” Ron said shortly. “They are more likely to punch you in the face for your mouth.”
Harry couldn’t disagree with that.
“Did your dad really beat you as a little kid?”
Draco flinched and outright glared at Harry.
“Harry didn’t tell me,” Ron said. “Sirius did. He said that he and you grew up similarly and that dark families often beat their children to encourage the growth of their magic.”
“Yeah.” Draco shrugged and looked away from him. “He also did things to encourage extreme bursts of accidental magic. Like—throwing me out a second floor window of the manor or almost letting me drown in the lake at the back of our property. He locked me up sometimes—because your core will build fast if you’re angry for extended periods of time.”
“Evil, dark?” Draco asked dryly. “My father was not a good man, Weasley. He never even pretended to be a good man. He raised me the way he was raised. It was my mother who prevented me from being like him. She… loves me so much and often took my punishments to keep me safe. I couldn’t watch her suffer and still respect my father. I don’t think he understood that because he never loved anyone—not his wife, not his child, or even his own parents.”
“Perhaps he’s slightly proud of me, however,” Draco said as an afterthought. “I did uphold a family tradition of sorts the other night.” He lifted his chin when Ron started to question him. “Patricide is quite common among the Malfoys.”
The door to the library opened and Sirius leaned in. “Harry, Draco – we need you in the kitchen.”
* * * *
“You want us to do a sex ritual,” Harry repeated. He wasn’t horrified but he was kind of surprised. Draco and he had done a few in the previous timeline because sex magic was a powerful way to charge rune stones for rituals and warding.
“You are both virgins,” Snape said without even smirking. “You are completing a soul bond—there will never be a more perfect time for this particular ritual. You will both gain power from the ritual itself and the power you throw off will not only strengthen the wards in the house but it will allow us to charge runic stones for the defense of Hogwarts. I also purchased you a personal set of stones for runic magic which you will both learn to use from Professor Babbling in private.”
“Right.” Harry pulled the book forward on the table and reviewed the ritual. Dumbledore was silent on his end of the table and hadn’t said much of anything since he and Sirius had joined the three of them in the kitchen. He knew that Dumbledore had only been in the house for a few minutes—he’d felt the older wizard pass through the wards.
“Rituale Amoris Et Unitati,” Draco murmured. “It’s not blood magic so it doesn’t require one of us to shed blood during the act like many virgin sex rituals do. It’s a ritual of love and unity—founded on physical purity. If it fails, nothing untoward will happen to us.”
“You assume it might fail?” Dumbledore questioned. “You are both virgins. I did the charm myself to check.”
Harry sighed, slightly irritated that they’d both been tested and wondered when the older wizard had accomplished it. “But we aren’t innocent, Headmaster. Neither of us has lived what anyone could call a life of purity.” He lowered his gaze. “To be frank, one reason why I was content to sleep in the cupboard at the Dursleys’ house is that my Uncle Vernon couldn’t get inside it because he was too big. I was horrified about returning to Privet Drive after my first year because I feared he might touch me.”
“But he didn’t,” Sirius murmured. “Please tell me he didn’t, Harry.”
“He didn’t,” Harry assured and reached out and took his godfather’s hand. “He made comments sometimes and once made an extremely off-color and poorly timed joke to my aunt about selling my arse so I could earn my keep. She was horrified and screamed at him for hours. He never brought it up again. That was last summer.”
Dumbledore pulled a scroll out his robes and put it on the table in front of Harry. “The wards on your house were monitored by the same magical monitors that monitored your accidental magic. I have a few devices in my office to monitor your life signs but that is it.”
Harry opened the scroll. “Dolores Umbridge.”
“Yes, it appears that she monitored your home situation herself and marked all of the ward notifications on your file investigated,” Dumbledore murmured. “I should have had my own monitors in place to make sure you weren’t abused. I’m ashamed that I did not.”
“I often wondered about it,” Harry admitted. As an adult he never bothered to check, preferring to just put it behind him, but by then maybe Dolores might have erased any evidence of the role she’d played in his life.
“I hesitated to show you this, Harry, considering how you already feel about her.”
“She’s an evil toad and I’d like to see her thrown in Azkaban for life.” Well, actually, he wanted to disembowel her but he would have to content himself to something a little less messy when the time came. Many in the magical world had no idea what an archmagus was capable of and most assumed they were guided into a life of pure, light magical purpose. But archmagus were warriors for the light and killing was practically second nature to Harry by the time he’d reached the age of thirty.
“She certainly deserves it,” Draco conceded before he returned his attention to the ritual. “I actually think we should do this at Hogwarts and make additional rune stones for Black Manor rather than what you had planned. We’ll throw off astronomical amounts of power because we’ve both invoked our familial magic. This ritual combined with our soul bond might throw us both into our first physical maturation. Neither one of us have gone through that process despite the hyper-development of our archmagus gifts.”
Dumbledore nodded. “Well, we’ll need a full conclave to properly distribute the magic to Hogwarts’ wards.”
“Conclave?” Harry asked. Pretending to be ignorant was starting to get old.
“It’s like a coven but for wizards instead of witches,” Draco explained. “Ritual magic shouldn’t have mixture and as we are both male—then a conclave makes more sense. If one of us were female, we would probably choose a coven to make the female more comfortable about being so exposed during the ritual.”
“Seven members would be ideal,” Sirius said.
Harry pulled a self-inking quill out of a cup in the center of the table and summoned a piece of parchment from a drawer. He paused at the choked sound that Snape made. “What?”
“How long have you been casting wandlessly and soundlessly?”
“I’ve always been able to summon things,” Harry admitted. “Sirius said I started doing it when I was six months old. It’s easier now that my family magic has been invoked but I cast a lumos on my wand when it wasn’t in my hand when the Dementor attacked me after fourth year. I started working on it in private.”
“What are you doing?” Sirius asked.
“Making a list of men I’m okay with seeing me naked and I can trust with Draco,” Harry said dryly. “Dumbledore, Sirius, Snape, Lupin, Flitwick, Arthur Weasley, and…” He sighed. “Who else?”
“Kingsley Shacklebolt would be a good choice,” Dumbledore offered. “He’s a member of the Order and an Auror. Lord Malfoy is familiar with him.”
Draco nodded. “He was the only Auror on my case that treated me decently from the start. Near the end most of them were looking at me with pity and still a little hatred. Shacklebolt just looked pissed off on my behalf. I think he would respect us and our bond.”
Harry added Shacklebolt’s name without comment. He would have added the name on his own but he hadn’t met the man in the current time line. There were few men he trusted more. “Should we have a junior conclave of our peers? It mentioned that in the book.”
“It would add power to the ritual,” Snape offered.
Harry frowned and nodded. “Seven for that too?”
“It is a powerful number in ritual magic,” Sirius pointed out. “But just five because you and Draco will be officially part of the conclave for future rituals.
Harry frowned. “I don’t know how I feel about him seeing you naked, Dragon. He already follows you around Hogwarts like a puppy. I’m perfectly capable of casting an impotence curse myself, you know.”
“His family is neutral so far in the war and no Zabini took the Mark in the last war,” Draco pointed out. “We could pull boys out of each house—it’s an honor and they would be bound by the oath of the conclave to keep it a secret.”
“Right.” Harry frowned and wrote down Zabini’s name. “Who else?”
“Justin Finch-Fletchley. He’s a Muggle-born in the Hufflepuff house.”
“Not likely to forget,” Harry muttered. “That little bastard still crosses himself when he passes by me in the hall thanks to you throwing a snake at me second year.”
Draco smiled lazily. “Your reaction was such a surprise.”
“For a lot of people,” Harry allowed. “Right. Well, he’d be a good choice—maybe seeing me starkers will convince him I’m not a demon.”
“I doubt it,” Draco said slyly. “Let’s see, we need a pick from Ravenclaw. Terry Boot perhaps—he’s loyal, smart, and rather enamored with you already. Thinks you’re the second coming of Merlin.”
“Is that important?”
“Very,” Draco assured. “You’re the senior house in our pair bond and when we invoke magic—we will all be touched by the magic of the Potters. It’s why I haven’t chosen Crabbe and Goyle. They might or might not be loyal to me personally, but they hate your guts because of how their fathers raised them. Justin and Terry both might fear me a little but they don’t hate me as far as I know. They’re also smart, so they will understand and respect the soul bond for what it is.”
“Okay.” Harry glanced towards Dumbledore and found the elderly wizard just watching them contentedly. “You don’t have an opinion?”
“This ritual is for the two of you and you both must be comfortable with everyone who witnesses the matter. I personally would have picked Moody because of his magical power but I understand why you did not. You don’t trust him with your mate’s safety.”
“Not on a bet,” Harry agreed. “Sirius told you, huh?”
“Told him what?” Draco questioned.
Harry flushed. “I had Sirius add me to the wards and build in an alarm that would wake me even if I’m asleep when Moody enters the house. I can’t help it—part of it might be residual from Barty Couch, Jr. but he had his wand on you the entire time he was in the kitchen that first night. He asked questions he had no business asking.”
“He’s been an Auror for a long time,” Draco allowed. “He spent most of his life hunting dark wizards and has obviously suffered for it. We should probably cut him some slack eventually.”
“Maybe.” Harry looked back at his list. He hesitated and focused entirely on Draco. “Well?”
“It’s an honor he would be hard pressed to say no to, especially when he finds his father is involved. It will either cement your friendship and make him grow up, or he will turn from you completely after it’s all said and done. I’m not sure how he feels about me but I don’t think we’ve really had enough interaction for him to develop a deep seated hatred for me. Maybe resentment because of my past attitude and circumstances. The upside is that no matter what happens, the conclave invitation will seal the secret and he won’t be able to even accidently speak of it.”
Harry nodded. “It’s best to know now than to wonder about it for years and him not be there when I need him most.” As it had happened in the last time line. He wrote down Ron’s name and then stared at the list. “We need someone with power and balance—like Dumbledore is for the senior circle.”
“Well, we both know who that is,” Draco said. “Not that I want him there because I’m still pissed at him but I guess we can’t hold it against him considering the circumstances.”
“Longbottom,” Harry said as he wrote down the name and glanced up when Snape scoffed. “Neville is very powerful—he’ll probably achieve mage status himself in adulthood. He was handicapped by being forced to use his father’s wand. Also, his grandmother has done quite a bit to erode his self-confidence over the years. You certainly don’t help—since he takes every word out of your mouth as the gospel. But he needs to buy his new wand sooner rather than later because I can imagine he’s going to have a hard time adjusting to a wand suited for him.”
“I will visit Augusta and let her know that Neville will need a new wand soon—I will inform her that she’s hindering his development as a wizard,” Dumbledore murmured. “She will listen to me.”
“Now, how do we assemble these people at Hogwarts without the Ministry getting wind of it?” Sirius questioned.
“We will do it a week before school is set to start,” Dumbledore said and then paused. He looked at Harry and then at Draco over the rim of his glasses. “That is if we can trust you two young men not to give into the temptation of your bond?”
Harry blushed and Draco huffed dramatically. “We can maintain. We know how important it is.”
“Right.” Sirius put a thin blue book on the table. “I don’t want to actually have this discussion so this book should answer any questions to have about intercourse with another male including the appropriate lubrication and health charms to prevent urinary tract infections and the like.”
“Merlin, Sirius,” Harry muttered but he took the book with a put upon sigh. He opened it and then shut it abruptly.
“Oh, the diagrams are animated,” Sirius said helpfully.
“Of course they are.” Draco laughed and opened it up. “Headmaster, we’ll both need copies of the ritual so we can memorize it. And we’ll need charmed parchment for the conclave so we can do the invitations. We’ll need a neutral place to meet before the ritual so that the vows of the conclave can be created.”
* * * *
July 13, 1996
Neville Longbottom was in his private greenhouse casually replanting several plants when Albus Dumbledore came to visit, his Gran in tow. He dusted off his hands and swallowed nervously. He couldn’t figure out any reason why the Headmaster would be visiting now unless…his stomach tightened. He’d tried so hard at Hogwarts but things always came slow to him in the practical work. Maybe he hadn’t passed enough of his OWLS to return for NEWT classes? It would be a disaster for his family—if he couldn’t attend Hogwarts he might not be magically powerful enough to claim the head of his family when the time came.
“Oh, Headmaster, be careful.” Neville rushed forward and snatched a vine that had been edging towards the elderly wizard. “My Devil’s Snare is a little aggressive this time of the year.”
“My apologies, my boy, I don’t always mind myself the way I should.” He smiled grandly. “Thank you for saving me from being jerked around by my ankles. At my age, that can be quite disastrous.”
“Can I…” Neville took a deep breath and looked around his greenhouse. “If this is bad news, sir, I’d rather we adjourn to the house. This is one of the few places I have where I have happy memories of my mother.”
“It’s good news,” Albus assured him. “Your mother was a talented herbologist. I was pleased when I was told you displayed her talent in the field—a good herbologist can be worth their weight in gold as you know.”
“I do my best to honor both of my parents, sir.” Neville glanced towards his grandmother who looked a little angry and upset. “Has something happened? Have I done something?”
“No, lad, if what I suspect is true—you’ve done the very best you could with your circumstances. It’s my understanding that your grandmother gave you your father’s wand.”
“Yes, but it was broken at the Department of Mysteries. I’ll be getting a new one for next year. Right now I’m carrying my grandfather’s for protection.” Neville touched the wand, which he had in a holster built into his woolen trousers. “I’ve not been practicing magic, sir. I don’t need to do much magic for this greenhouse and grandfather’s wand doesn’t respond well to me.”
“Would you please cast a ‘lumos’ to the best of your ability? Put all the magical strength you can into it.”
Neville paled but did as he instructed. The light he produced was nice but nowhere near as spectacular as he’d seen others do in class. Finally, he ended the spell and put his wand away. “I’m not a squib, sir.”
“Of course you aren’t,” Dumbledore murmured. “You are quite powerful but you’ve never had a wand suited to your magic.” Dumbledore pulled his own wand and offered it to Neville. “Cast a ‘lumos’ with my wand.”
Neville hesitantly took the wand and shuddered against the power of the wand. “Wow, sir.” He cleared his throat and spoke, “Lumos.” And he made a small sun in his own greenhouse. He nervously shouted, “Nox.” And shoved the wand back into Dumbledore’s hand. “Sorry!”
“It’s quite alright. It would be best if you received a new wand as soon as possible so you can get used to it before school begins. You’ll have to do exercises and learn to control your magic all over again due to how much you struggled with your father’s wand for control.”
“Oh, Neville.” Augusta Longbottom sighed. “I’m so sorry. I’ve… I will go and floo call Ollivander immediately. We will meet with him privately about a new wand for you.” She hurried away from the greenhouse.
“Gran,” Neville sighed and shot the Headmaster the dirtiest look he could muster. “You upset her.”
“I see that you knew about the problems with your wand.”
“Of course I knew—my father’s wand has fought me since she first handed it to me and my grandfather’s wand wasn’t any better but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and upset her.” Neville huffed and sighed. “Also, I didn’t figure it mattered since I didn’t have much magic to begin with.”
“You are very powerful,” Albus assured. “You will receive a letter soon from Harry Potter. He will ask you to be part of a conclave. He is offering you the kind of trust and allegiance that very few in his life will ever earn.”
“But… I’m not…”
“It was at his suggestion that I come here and speak with you about getting your new wand sooner rather than later,” Dumbledore said then. “He believes that you’re a very powerful wizard and that you will provide the balance for his conclave.”
* * * *
Blaise Zabini came to his feet the moment his Head of House entered the library where he was studying. “Professor, how is Draco? I heard…” He trailed off when his parents entered behind him. His friendship with Draco had always made his parents uncomfortable because of Lucius Malfoy and his political leanings.
“He is well and I will pass on that you asked about him,” Severus said. “Nigel, if you would do as you agreed?”
Nigel Zabini pulled a letter from his robes and handed it to his son. “You received this yesterday and I withheld it because I was concerned by the nature of the document.”
Blaise took it. The secrecy charms on it were the heaviest he’d ever encountered. “What is it?”
“It is an invitation to join a conclave,” Nigel Zabini admitted. “I’ve seen very few in my lifetime because I don’t have the politics many prefer for their ritual magic. I’m neither dark nor light.”
“We are a grey family,” Blaise murmured. “Then why I am receiving an invitation?”
“Because the person that will lead this conclave seeks balance. You are being approached now because the conclave you are being invited to join will be assisting another, mature conclave in a very advanced magical ritual.” Snape inclined his head towards the invitation.
Blaise opened it carefully and sucked in a breath at the magic that rushed over his skin. “Oh, is that…”
“Yes, there are secrecy charms attached to the parchment itself. Headmaster Dumbledore charmed them.”
“Wow.” Blaise blinked rapidly. “I’ve never felt anything like that before.”
You are invited to participate in the ritual bonding of Lord Harry James Potter and Lord Draco Lucius Malfoy as a member of their personal conclave.
If you agree, please release a single drop of blood on this parchment. If you find that you cannot agree, burn this document and know that the rejection will not be taken personally. The secrecy charm on this invitation will not dissipate with its destruction.
Lord Harry James Potter
Lord Draco Lucius Malfoy
A little flare of jealousy burned in his gut but then it drifted away. He’d known all along that even if he’d caught Draco’s eye that he wouldn’t get more than a night or two. Malfoy was entirely out of his league and it had little to do with his title. He glanced towards his father, aware that he could not share the contents of the letter with him. The secrecy pact on the document had taken effect the moment he opened it.
“This is an opportunity like no other, Father.”
Nigel Zabini nodded and spared the letter a glance. “Yes, I imagine it is. It is your choice, Blaise; I’d never deny you a place in a conclave. The relationships you will foster in such a group will be strong and will last you your entire life.”
Blaise cut his thumb with his wand and dropped a single dot of blood on the bottom of the parchment. It lit with magic and glowed gold.
* * * *
July 14, 1996
“You’ve repeatedly forced your father’s wand to submit to you since your first year,” Ollivander repeated, his tone shocked. “That is quite an accomplishment, young man. Your father’s magic was powerful and his wand uniquely attuned to him.”
Neville exchanged a look with his shocked grandmother and then cleared his throat. “Does that mean I can’t get a new wand?” He was surrounded by over a hundred wands—none of which had responded to him at all.
“It means we will have to make you something a little different,” Ollivander said blithely. “It is fortunate that your grandmother anticipated this problem and made an appointment. I recently returned from an expedition in the Amazon. I encountered a beautiful wild Devil’s Snare that appeared to be over a thousand years old. Let’s see how it reacts to you.”
“It gave you a cutting?” Neville asked, truly excited for the first time since entering the wand shop.
“Yes, just one though—just enough for a wand. I wasn’t allowed a root or I would’ve immediately taken it to Hogwarts for Professor Sprout. She tells me you are as talented as your mother when it comes to Herbology.” Ollivander motioned him to follow into the back of the store.
“Don’t worry about a price, Garrick,” Augusta said as she followed them into the back of the room.
“Oh I wasn’t,” Ollivander replied airily. “One must pay a price when one is unreasonable.” He offered her a slightly crazy smile and laughed. “It is a valuable lesson, yes?”
“Yes,” Augusta said with a long sigh. She took a seat on a chair near the front of the room. “It is.”
Neville watched the byplay but followed along silently when Ollivander guided him to a table with a series of wand blanks on it. He reached out and then hesitated when the elderly man made a sound. “I’m sorry.”
“No, no, young man, go ahead,” he encouraged. “Touch the one that interests you.”
His fingers grazed two different wand blanks before settling on the one he’d reached for first—a deep red rosewood. “This one.”
“Good,” Ollivander said with a small smile. “Excellent. Now, let’s see about your core. The Devil’s Snare is in with these samples but you mustn’t be tempted to take it just because you find the idea of it fascinating.”
“Alright.” Neville glanced over the glowing spheres in the wooden box. Each sphere had its own little velvet lined pocket it in the box and he really couldn’t tell what was in each sphere beyond color. Somewhere green and others were glowing white still others were blood red. He closed his eyes to forestall the temptation and touched his magic.
His grandmother gasped and Neville opened his eyes to see that one of the orbs was hovering above the box level with his hand. “Oh.”
“Oh, indeed.” Ollivander nodded. “It appears that the Devil’s Snare is as fascinated with you as you are with it. This will be a powerful and aggressive wand, young man—the rosewood I harvested is from a very old tree in Bolivia that lets me take two or three branches every twenty years or so. It is so magical that it glows from within.”
“Thank you for doing this,” Neville murmured. “I’m not sure I even deserve it.”
“Nonsense young man, every wizard deserves a wand uniquely suited to him.”
* * * *
Draco had been hopeful but Harry had expected rejection—so when Justin’s invitation was burned he wasn’t surprised. Terry Boot’s invitation received no response for over two days and then it was burned as well. The burning was followed by a letter—one that shocked the hell out of Harry.
Sirius was reading it for the second time and Draco was fuming. “Wait, wait, so this bloke is in love with you? You said he barely speaks to you at school.”
“I know, Sirius.” Harry sighed. “I had no clue he felt that way.”
Terry Boot had fought during the war and had proven to be a very loyal friend. He’d never once had admitted he had feelings for Harry. Had they known, they would have never invited him into the conclave for their bonding ceremony.
Malfoy huffed. “That’s…” He snatched the letter out of Sirius hand. “What the hell does this mean, Harry?”
“That you aren’t the only wizard on the planet enamored with my arse?” Harry asked dryly and grinned when Dumbledore and Lupin both snorted. “Look, Dragon, you know there is no competition for you here.” He took the letter from Draco’s clenched fist. “Plenty of people think they know me. They believe all of those ridiculous stories about my slaying dragons as a toddler. Terry is one of those people because he never bothered to get to know me. He’s just a fan. Justin on the other hand thinks I’m a liar and a dark wizard. Bonding with you has probably only solidified that for him.”
“You need to replace them both in the conclave,” Snape said as he briefly looked up from the paper that Draco had given him earlier in the day. “And then I’d like to have a conversation with the two of you about… this and the implications of making it public knowledge.”
“If it can cure…” Draco sighed. “I know why my father had the condition researched, Severus. I’m sure he told the Dark Lord that it was just in case they needed further information from someone that had been driven insane by the Cruciatus Curse. Though I’m certain he had the research done to protect himself. He informed me of the cure during my second year at Hogwarts in case I needed to brew it for him. That being said, I don’t think he ever tested it on anyone and was careful to never use the Crucio curse on my mother.”
“It could change the course of the war,” Harry said quietly. “The Cruciatus Curse would…” He closed his eyes. “It would still be unforgiveable but if surviving it with your mind intact was possible it might give those fighting hope. Enough hope to continue fighting. There is no pain like it— the pain ends but the effects often linger for months. If that potion works the way the brewer claims it does—it could be the precursor to fixing a lot of spell damage even beyond the Cruciatus.”
“I don’t disagree,” Snape admitted. “It’s brilliant work.” He sighed. “I take it there is more?”
“Yes,” Draco admitted. “I have the papers in my trunk—I’m still working through them and removing the Malfoy secrecy charms on them. He kept the potions master a prisoner a long time before he killed him. I assume he also made the man work to fix the problem with his own magic. I do not believe he was successful.”
“What problem did your father have?” Dumbledore asked.
Draco paused, family loyalty warred inside him briefly and he pushed it aside. “My father was tortured by the Dark Lord when my grandfather was discovered dead. Though the public story is that Abraxas died of Dragon Pox, the truth is that my father poisoned him and the Dark Lord knew it. The torture damaged his magical channels and in doing so rendered my father incapable of functioning as a ritual member of the inner circle.”
“Why did Lucius kill Abraxas?” Severus asked, shocked.
“My grandfather made the mistake of telling my father that he believed I was magically stronger than him and would serve better as his heir. My father admitted to me that he killed Abraxas to avoid being bypassed as the Malfoy Heir. I’m fortunate that he just didn’t kill me instead.”
“What are the repercussions of releasing these cures?” Sirius questioned.
Harry was pretty sure that karma was going to bite them on the arse for stealing people’s work from a future that would now not happen. Between the two of them they’d managed to write down fifteen potions from the future—nerve regeneration, limb regeneration, and an improved version of Wolfsbane that turned werewolves into a full wolf on the night of the full moon and made it impossible for them infect others were among them.
They’d decided to attribute the potions to an unknown and dead potions master that Lucius had kept prisoner and eventually killed. They’d also started a grimoire full of spells and rituals they’d developed together after they’d become partners as Aurors.
“It would do a lot to rehabilitate the Malfoy name,” Harry said. “Granted, it wouldn’t win Draco any favors within some of the darker families unless they’ve got family members hidden way who were punished too severely by Voldemort.”
“Randolph Greengrass,” Albus said. “Tom tried to recruit him in the days leading up the end of the war and he tortured him to insanity as a warning for his brother Gerald and their father Marcus. I imagine both men would have submitted to the Dark Lord rather than face the punishment Randolph suffered.”
“People might be afraid of the potions because of my name,” Draco said.
“True,” Harry sighed. “We could create a foundation—put both of our names on it and create a board of directors with people like Gerald Greengrass and Augusta Longbottom on it. Both families have an invested interest in a cure for Cruciatus exposure.” He glanced at Dumbledore and the elderly man nodded. “Albus Dumbledore on the front end of it being all grandfatherly and twinkling his eyes at anyone who disagrees would be beneficial.”
Sirius burst out laughing and sobered up only to burst out laughing again when Dumbledore twinkled at him brightly. “How in the hell do you do that?”
“I’m magical,” Albus said wisely.
“You’re something else,” Snape muttered. “Potter, Draco—you need to decide who to invite into the two remaining slots for your conclave. The original seven must be strong—even if you intend to change or double your number in the future.”
“I think we should stay at seven,” Harry murmured. “It’s a perfect number and these boys will grow into men with us.”
“Who then?” Sirius questioned.
Draco made a sound and then stood. He went to a shelf and pulled off a book. “I almost suggested them at first because of the unique quality of their magic but they are older than we are.” He thumbed through the book and nodded. “The Weasley twins.”
“Ah.” Albus nodded. “Indeed, young man, the magic of twins is very special.”
“Hmm,” Draco murmured in agreement. He sat down on the couch next to Harry and curled in mostly out of habit but was careful to avoid any direct skin contact. They were both rather uncomfortable advertising their incomplete bond, even to people they trusted. “Twin magic is special because they share a unique connection both magically and mentally with one another. In ritual magic, twins are capable of casting almost as if they are one. Male twins are coveted in conclaves that often perform fertility and sex ritual magic as they are especially virile.”
“Right.” Harry laughed. “Let’s not tell Fred and George that part—we’ll never live down the discussion about their extra manliness.”
“Agreed,” Draco nodded. He closed the book and snagged the letter from Terry Boot before spreading out on the closed book and reviewing it critically. “Let’s review this, shall we?”
“Dragon.” Harry sighed and ran his fingers through Draco’s fashionably short hair.
“You might not take his interest in you seriously, Harry, but I believe we should determine just how… big of a threat he is.”
“He’s not a threat,” Harry muttered. He leaned in and whispered, “He’s a sixteen year old boy, Dragon.”
“He’s a Pure-blood wizard with a marriage contract on tap for the Potter family,” Draco whispered back. “Or did you forget that little detail?”
Harry paled and slumped back on the couch. He had forgotten about the contracts. There had been ten in total—from different families in the wizarding world. Some of them had been a hundred years old. The Boot contract had been signed by Charles Potter, Harry’s grandfather, and was the most ambiguous. It merely stated a ‘compatible’ partner within the Potter family. The assumption had been that James Potter would have several children. He wasn’t actually required to marry anyone—they were all voluntary contracts and he’d voided them all after he’d accepted his inheritance the first time. A step he hadn’t taken the time to handle at the bank this time around. He focused on the letter.
I can’t in good conscience be a part of a conclave under the circumstances that you’ve indicated. That you would bind yourself with HIM, the son of a known Death Eater, concerns me greatly.
I believe you are a beautiful and powerful person. You deserve more than you give yourself credit for and certainly more than a monster like HIM. He’s been nothing but cruel to you since you met him—he’s responsible for a great deal of the suffering you’ve had at Hogwarts. I can’t believe you’re willing to forgive him all of those transgressions in favor of what is obviously some political plot set up by Dumbledore.
I have a strong and powerful family—a power not built on dark activities and service to a Dark Lord. I can help you escape this horrible situation. You’ll never be safe in HIS father’s home—I hope you realize that before it is too late. There is no need to debase yourself with such a union.
All my love,
Terrence Scott Boot
Scion, the House of Boot
Harry huffed. “I don’t appreciate the attitude he has that I’m apparently easily lead and too stupid to make my own decisions.”
“Maybe he wants to make you his trophy wife,” Draco said snidely. “I hate him. I’m going to hex him so severely he’ll break out in hives at the mere thought of touching his own dick.”
Sirius snorted and nudged Remus. “That’s the Black in him coming out. Malfoys just like to kill their prey—Blacks like to maim them for life and make them miserable for eternity.”
Remus nodded. “Makes them easier to keep track of if they can barely function.”
Draco stared at him. “Have you met my mother? She’s your age. Perhaps you should take her out to dinner when she gets out of Madam Pomfrey’s clutches and goes through a proper mourning period for appearances sake.”
Remus stared at him in shock. “You realize I’m a werewolf.”
“Yes, I heard.” Draco turned back to the book on twin magic and opened it. “You did hear she spent the last twenty years married to a vicious Death Eater, right? Frankly, a goblin would be an improvement—an educated werewolf is step-father material. I’m practically raised, Lupin, and I plan to dower her very well. She’s beautiful, well-educated, mean as a snake, and I’ll even pay her shopping bills.”
Snape snorted and Sirius started laughing as Remus immediately started reading his book again.
“Dragon, stop trying to sell your mother off.”
“I just think she could do with a big strapping werewolf…” Draco said and then smirked when Remus blushed furiously. “He looks pretty cute blushing like that.”
“I agree,” Harry nodded thoughtfully. “We certainly want to make sure she doesn’t end up with another Death Eater.”
“Well, as the Head of the House of Malfoy I can prevent that,” Draco muttered and tucked his socked feet under the back cushion of the couch. “I already celebrated my independence day on one Death Eater; I’m not above doing it again.” He shot Snape a look when he his godfather exhaled sharply. “I refuse to feel guilty about it. If that makes people think poorly of me—that’s fine. Fuck them.”
“Mr. Malfoy, your language!” Albus said and shook his head in mock outrage.
Malfoy shot him a knowing look. “You want to watch it in the pensieve?”
Forty-five minutes later they all stumbled away from Sirius Black’s pensieve and stared at Draco Malfoy with a mixture of shock, horror, and awe.
Dumbledore recovered first. He smoothed down his robes and cleared his throat. “A red letter day, indeed, Mr. Malfoy. I’m sure your father greatly regrets teaching you as he obviously did.”
Harry exhaled and then sighed. “Wow. Let’s go take a nap. That wore me out just watching it.”
July 16, 1996
Ron Weasley had been staring at the conclave invitation for four days. He hadn’t spoken with Harry about it and he’d avoided being in the same room with him and Malfoy as often as he could outside of meals. In truth, the last week had shown him a different side of Draco Malfoy. Granted, he was still a snarky bastard but he hadn’t insulted anyone since coming to the manor. He cleaned up after himself, never made comments about them being poor, and he hadn’t called Hermione a Mudblood once.
Then there was his transparent and rather funny campaign to get Remus Lupin to date his mother after a proper mourning period. Lupin had taken to running from Malfoy in horror, which just wasn’t getting old for Ron. Whenever he tried to think that Harry and Draco didn’t belong together he was reminded of that beautiful golden light that had moved around them when they’d kissed in Harry’s office. That kiss had infuriated Ron and he hadn’t understood why at first.
He wasn’t remotely attracted to Harry like that so he didn’t think he was jealous of their romantic relationship. Then it had hit him like a ton of bricks—he’d always thought that Harry would end up with a girl. A witch wouldn’t take his place as Harry’s best mate. But Draco Malfoy was everything sort of combined for Harry—married or bonded couples always ended up partners in the Aurors as they were capable of performing sympathetic magic together.
Draco could talk Quidditch with Harry and drink Fire Whiskey right out of the bottle with him. They were mates. The niche that had been Ron’s was gone and really, and if he was going to be honest, it had been gone since he’d acted so stupidly during the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Sure, Harry had forgiven him but he’d stopped turning to him for answers or help. The offer for the position in the conclave was Harry’s last overture of friendship—Ron knew that for certain.
He barely glanced up when the door to his room opened and his mother entered. “Mum, I’m not a very good friend.”
Molly sighed and glanced towards the parchment on the desk in front of her youngest son. She knew the twins had received their invitations earlier in the afternoon and they’d agreed without even discussing it with her or Arthur. She’d been disappointed but not surprised to find that Arthur had agreed to do whatever it was, too. At least he had discussed it with her but he’d been quite firm in his belief that he should do it because Dumbledore had asked.
“Well, admitting that you have a fault is a good way to start working on it.” Molly sat down on the bed and patted the mattress. “Come here, Ron.”
Ron frowned and walked across the room. He slumped down on the bed beside her. “I try… to be supportive of him but I get so… jealous of what he has.”
“What does Harry Potter have?” Molly questioned. “Gold from his Family estate and fame he never asked for and clearly doesn’t want. The only close blood kin he has left on this Earth appears to hate him and the Dark Lord has done everything within his power to kill that boy since he was just over a year old. This is not a life worth coveting, Ronnie. I realize… that the lack of money in our home upsets you and yes, your father could have changed jobs years ago and made more money if he’d wanted. But he is happy with the job he has and happiness is worth more than any amount of gold.”
“It’s easy to say that,” Ron muttered.
“I grew up with money,” Molly said shortly. “My parents all but disowned me because I turned down a marriage contract with Barty Crouch, Sr. to marry your father—whom I loved more dearly than any amount of gold. My parents were perfectly fine with the idea of marrying me off to man I couldn’t even stand, that I would later discover was a zealot and really no better than a Death Eater. Sirius Black wasn’t the only man he put in Azkaban without a trial. Hundreds of witches and wizards were killed by Aurors during the war under Crouch’s direction, because he couldn’t be bothered to protect the public as long as he got the Death Eaters. And still he let himself be bought off by the likes of Lucius Malfoy and then apparently kept his own son prisoner under the Imperius curse for ten years.”
“Huh.” Ron frowned. “I didn’t…I could have been a Crouch?”
“You would have never existed,” Molly said shortly. “Beyond the fact that it took me and your father to make you—Barty made it clear that he would allow me one child and no more. I tell you all of this because I need you to understand what it means to be happy and what it means to be wealthy. Gold has nothing to do with either.”
“I…” Ron nodded. “Right.”
He stood up and went to the small desk in his room. The potions knife was still sitting where he’d put it two days before, the first time he’d come close to responding to the invitation. He cut his thumb decisively and pressed it against the parchment—ignoring his mother’s intake of breath.
“I want to be a good friend, Mum,” Ron said quietly. “But more than that, I want to be a good man like Dad.”
* * * *
I’ve not heard from you and I hope you are doing well. I’ve spoken with my father at length about your situation even though the foolish privacy charm on the invitation you sent me keeps from speaking of it directly to him.
Please owl back with your location and I will let him know where he can pick you up. He’s very interested in meeting you as he’s heard several rumors at the Ministry which he refuses to discuss with me.
I remain your friend and ally in this situation and all I wish is for you to be free to make the best choice for yourself and your future.
Terrence Scott Boot
Scion, the House of Boot
Harry huffed and tossed the letter towards Dumbledore. “Sir, can you please do something about him? I think his correspondence is endangering the security of my location and might reveal me to Death Eaters or something.”
Dumbledore read the letter and then peered at Harry over his glasses. “In my day, such dedication was to be greeted with courtesy and sympathy, Mr. Potter.”
“In my day, Headmaster, such behavior is to be greeted with restraining orders and a sternly worded cease and desist letter,” Harry returned crossly.
“As Mr. Boot thinks I’m a barmy old coot, I doubt my interference would grant you the relief you are seeking.”
“You are a barmy old coot,” Harry muttered and then flushed when Molly tutted at him. “Mrs. Weasley, can you please make Terry Boot stop sending me love letters?”
“You should let Draco send that Howler like he wanted,” Ron said from across the table.
Harry frowned at his friend though it was hard to be angry with his friend after he’d joined the conclave. It had been a huge act of trust on Ron’s part and Harry really appreciated the effort the youngest male Weasley had made not to antagonize Draco. Though when he’d questioned Ron about it—his response had been a little less amusing than Harry had anticipated. Apparently, even Ron Weasley could develop a healthy fear of a sixteen year old boy who could kill his own father in a duel. It wasn’t a complete turnaround but it would do for the time being.
“Just send him a note telling him that you’re fine and that you’ll see him at Hogwarts,” Hermione advised. “Then we’ll all take terms casting repelling charms on your bum so he can’t touch it.”
Everyone in the kitchen turned and stared at her in shock. Then Molly, of all people, started to giggle. Harry sighed and reached out for the pumpkin juice that had been put in front of him. The moment the liquid touched his tongue—pain of the most unbelievable kind poured over his mind and body. He reached out blindly for Draco and his body started to seize. He had one fleeting look into Draco’s beautiful grey eyes before the world went black.
* * * *
Potter’s magic was eating at him from the inside out trying to get rid of the poison. Draco knew this because he’d seen it once before… in their future when a much older Ginny Weasley had tried to force Harry to love her. They had bound Harry to the bed with leather belts as any magical restraints had lasted just seconds before falling away in the wake of Harry’s raging magic.
Draco straddled him, forced Harry’s head back and poured another flushing drought down his throat. It was the second one but Malfoy knew from experience that it would probably take at least one more. He’d had Severus retrieve five from Hogwarts just to be safe. A pink aura rose off Harry as the drought worked its way through his body—an indication that the potion was trying to get rid of the love potion he’d been given.
Harry shuddered, bowed up off the bed and started to scream again. Draco did his best to hold him down—to prevent muscle and bone strain. In the other timeline, Harry had torn muscles and tendons over forty percent of his body and several bones had fractured under the strain his magic had put on his body.
“Stun him again,” Draco snapped as he rolled off Harry.
Sirius pulled his wand and immediately stunned his godson. It was the fourth time they’d stunned him since he’d been brought up from the kitchen.
“Has she confessed to what she gave him?”
“She hasn’t even admitted she gave him anything,” Sirius snapped. “Much less what it might be.”
“Fuck this,” Draco snapped and stalked from the room. “Severus, stay with him!”
Sirius was fast on his heels and Draco was fine with that. This was Black’s house and the Weasleys were his guests. The girl’s room was on the second floor—Ginny and Hermione Granger had been sharing since their arrival. He figured it was mostly because Molly didn’t want Ron getting any ideas about joining Granger at night. Their obvious interest in each other was kind of sickening considering Draco knew what kind of adults they’d turned out to be the first time. Maybe… well, maybe they’d be better people this time around.
He threw open the door, stalked to the trunk that looked the most worn and blasted off the lock with wandless magic. Half the contents of the trunk were on the floor before anyone else joined them.
“What are you doing?” Ginny shouted and would’ve launched herself at him if Ron hadn’t grabbed her. “Get out of my things!”
He found the box in the bottom, under neatly folded clothes and robes. Draco opened it and stared at the contents with growing ire. “For the love of Merlin! You are fourteen years old!” He stood, walked to one of the beds and put the box on it. He pulled out a purple vial first. “This is a lust potion.” He tossed it on the bed and picked up a pale yellow one. It wasn’t familiar. So he pulled out the cork and waved it carefully under his nose before passing it to Sirius.
“Fertility potion,” Sirius said and accepted the cork. He closed the vial and put it on the bed with the other. “It lasts about three months.”
“There are two empty vials,” Draco said. He sniffed them both. “One was the fertility potion.” He tossed that vial and smelled the other. “And this is a love potion—a class one, I think.” He held it out for Sirius who sniffed it as well. “No ashwinder eggs.”
“Class one, border line class two. It would have lasted a few weeks unless she reinforced it with sex. Class two potions are shored up with sexual intimacy but aren’t as dangerous as class three,” Sirius explained. “You can smell the undertone of the heartroot and peppermint in it. It encourages emotional love instead of the more obsessive behavior of most class one potions. Add just a little more of a few ingredients and you’ve got Amorentia.” Sirius turned to glare at Ginny who was still in her brother’s arms at this point. Which was good because Ron looked ready to strangle her.
“Just the love potion or did you mix lust potion in as well?” Sirius demanded.
She glared. “I brushed the love potion on the inside of his juice cup and let it dry. It mixed with the pumpkin juice when I poured it. It’s harmless. I just wanted… to break whatever hold Malfoy has on him.”
At that moment, Harry started screaming again and Draco abandoned his search through the box. “You could’ve killed him, you stupid little girl!”
He stalked from the room and took the stairs two at a time trying to remind himself that she was still a child. But his mind was full of how she was an adult in the future—her cruelty had ended up ostracizing Harry from everyone in the Weasley family—people that had meant a lot to Harry at that point. It had broken his heart to lose that family and Ginny was to blame. Draco wanted to murder her.
Potter was tossing on the bed, his wrists bleeding from his body’s struggles against the bindings, writhing and screaming under a silencing charm. “Did you find Poppy?”
“Granger did. She’s been firecalling half of Wales trying to find that woman. She is on her way. I sent Albus back to Hogwarts for more potions,” Severus said as he handed Draco another flushing drought and a healing potion. “I didn’t want to stun him again until we used another flushing draft. I silenced him… because I know he wouldn’t want anyone to hear him carry on like that.”
“No, he wouldn’t.” Draco took the potions to the bed, climbed on and forced both down Harry’s throat through sheer strength of will.
* * * *
Everyone who lived in the house was gathered in the kitchen when Poppy brought Draco down for a meal. He sat at the end of the table and let Winky fuss over him in silence while Dumbledore was debriefed concerning what had happened in his periodic absences—retrieving potions, research, and finally Poppy Pomfrey herself. Sirius interrupted Severus several times to put his own two knuts into the conversation but for once it didn’t cause hostility between them. Both men had been very… helpful over the last ten hours.
“Poppy, how is Lord Potter?” Dumbledore asked carefully.
“He’s magically exhausted which is saying something considering what he is,” Poppy said shortly. “His core is rapidly filling and draining as his magic heals the trauma. His body rebelled against the first three healing potions we tried before we could find one that didn’t have any ingredients in common with the love potion she used on him.” She sent Ginny a dark look and the girl just glared back at her. “It is possible that he will develop an allergy to peppermint that he will keep the rest of his life. It will make treating him for injuries difficult as many potions master flavor healing and pain potions with peppermint automatically.”
Draco thought about ripping her heart out with his bare hands.
“Lord Malfoy, can you tell us why his body reacted this way to the potion? Sirius has indicated that it was a rather mild one,” Dumbledore prodded. “And my research into it has not been fruitful. I even visited the archives at the Department of Mysteries.”
“Magic protects the mind and heart of the archmagus,” Draco murmured as he stirred the coffee Winky had made him. The scent of the fresh cinnamon stick he was using was a balm for his soul. Cinnamon always reminded him of Harry and lazy days at their cottage in Wales. He resolved to see if it was for sale and buy it at the first opportunity. “Love potions are designed to cloud reason and force the mind to accept emotions that it might not otherwise entertain. Our well of magic is chaotic and the pain of his magic burning the potion out of his body was more than he can tolerate. Considering his past and the fact that he was once crucio’d by the Dark Lord—I find that rather horrifying.”
“Yes.” Dumbledore nodded his agreement. “That is quite upsetting to consider.” He focused on Poppy. “Has he suffered any permanent damage?”
“More than half of his magical channels were damaged when he lost control over the flow of wild magic into his core,” Poppy said bluntly. “His body had so much strain that he tore muscles and tendons. His right shoulder was dislocated and his fists curled so tightly that he fractured most of the bones in his hands. Nothing outright broken which is a miracle considering the way his muscles seized up. If Mr. Malfoy hadn’t reacted so fast the damage would’ve been much more severe. I’ve put him in a healing stasis so he doesn’t have to feel the Skele-Gro working. We’ll know more when he wakes up but I do not believe he will suffer any permanent damage. His magic has already started to heal the damaged channels.”
“Good.” Dumbledore sat back in his chair then focused intently on Ginny. “Young lady…”
“Headmaster,” Draco said abruptly. “I realize it is your nature to fix things and I respect that. However, this girl betrayed the House of Potter. Harry would be extremely irritated with you if you were to attempt to resolve this matter on his behalf.”
Dumbledore paused and considered Draco’s words carefully. “Of course, you’re right.” He turned to Sirius. “I trust that you and Harry will resolve this matter in a way that keeps the Order and its members safe.”
Sirius nodded. “I understand.”
* * * *
Draco squeezed excess water from the cloth then gently wiped his lover’s face. The healing stasis that Poppy had put Harry in kept his bodily functions at bay including sweat but it didn’t stop Draco from wanting to take care of him. He felt… useless now that everything was said and done. Nearly thirty hours had passed since the girl had tried to dose Harry with the love potion. The healing potions seemed to be doing the trick and they’d been forced to push a second dosage of Skele-Gro down Harry’s throat earlier in the day because too much of his magic was focused on repairing his magical channels.
They hadn’t been able to confirm the developing allergy to peppermint but it was a big factor in Draco’s worry. It hadn’t happened the first time around but then the first time around she had used Amorentia which didn’t normally have peppermint in it. It would mask the odors that the potion was designed to create for the victim.
“You need to eat,” Severus murmured. “He would not be pleased to wake up to find that you’ve made yourself ill.”
Draco allowed himself to be prodded to the small table near the back of their bedroom to the table that the godfathers had set. “What happened during the family meeting?”
“Ron had to be silenced and restrained because he grew so irate with his sister,” Sirius admitted. “We have confiscated all of the potions, her potion supplies, and I personally warded the potion’s lab in the basement to prevent her access. Severus did an inventory and spelled the contents of the lab so we’ll both be notified if someone disturbs anything in it. She admitted to brewing all of the potions at school and was going to wait until her own birthday before using any of them but Harry claimed his ring which she thought opened up an opportunity for her.”
“To marry him,” Draco guessed. “Doesn’t she understand the laws governing a noble house? She would’ve been charged with line theft if she’d gotten pregnant while he was under the effects of a love potion.”
“She didn’t and still does not believe that Harry will be angry with her. She’s quite convinced when he wakes up that he’ll realize that what she did freed him of whatever hold you have on him and he’ll be grateful,” Severus said.
“We also found another love potion in her things,” Sirius admitted. “She put it in her skin lotion and it was keyed to Harry. It required skin to skin contact, though.”
* * * *
July 19, 1996
He ached all over… like he had that night he’d come back to Hogwarts with Cedric’s body and that stupid trophy. Fingers were drifting through his hair but the tightness of Draco’s body pressed against his reminded him of a coiled snake. When his partner didn’t feel safe… there was always a really good bloody reason for it.
Harry opened his eyes and Draco Malfoy huffed in relief. “Hey.” He frowned at the hoarse quality of his voice and tried to clear his throat. “What happened?”
Draco frowned and looked away. “I’d rather not tell you this because you’re not going to like it at all and I don’t want to be the one to hurt you with it.”
“Just say it, you know I won’t blame you,” Harry whispered.
“I… it appears that Ginny Weasley tried to use a rather mild love potion on you. She had two versions—one she was putting on herself that was keyed to you. That’s why you developed that rash earlier in the week. The moment you came into contact with it—your magic started to burn it out.”
“And she put it in the pumpkin juice?”
“She brushed the inside of your cup with it and then poured the pumpkin juice into it,” Draco murmured. “It might as well have been a poison. We had to put three flushing drafts in you to stop your magic from responding, which was apparently pretty agonizing. You’ve been unconscious for three days, Harry.”
“Merlin.” Harry exhaled sharply. “What’s… happened to her?”
“She attempted to interfere with a soul bond,” Draco said quietly. “I was well within my rights to curse her but I didn’t. She also attacked a wizard she owed a personal life debt to. Magic will not be kind to her—the extent of her punishment has yet to be determined. I’ve heard stories about those who acted as she did—infertility and the loss of magic being the lesser of the punishments handed down by magic itself.”
Harry winced. “She’s a squib?”
“Sirius told me she can still use her wand. They tested her. Mrs. Weasley has tried to come up here several times but Sirius won’t let her. He’s rightly furious—Ginny abused his trust and the sanctity of his home by attacking his godson.”
“I’m surprised he didn’t throw the whole family out.”
“He wanted to but refrained because he figured it would upset you further,” Draco murmured. “She’s attacked the House of Potter, Harry. You have to respond.”
“I know.” Harry curled up against him and sighed. “Goddamn it.”
An hour later, he had showered and asked Sirius to gather Molly, Arthur, and Ginny into the office on the second floor. Draco had been upset but he’d finally convinced his lover to remain on the fourth floor. For all of her obvious faults, Ginny deserved as much privacy as he could realistically provide.
He sat down at his desk and accepted the tea that Dobby had personally arranged. The elf had taken over all of the cooking and food preparation in the house with Kreacher’s help. “Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, I’d like to apologize for any part I might have played in encouraging Ginny’s delusions concerning a future with me.” He ignored Ginny when she made a shocked sound. “I’ve never actively encouraged her affection and have done everything I could think to treat her like the sister I never had. I’ve never once deliberately given her the impression that we could be more than friends.”
“We know that, Harry,” Molly whispered. She looked down at her hands. “How do you feel?”
“Like someone who’s had a few crucios thrown their way,” Harry admitted honestly. He winced when Molly paled dramatically. “But physical pain is something I’m used to. I’ve suffered it often enough in the past that it is far easier to set it aside than to set aside the hurt and betrayal I feel concerning Ginny’s actions.”
“But Harry, I love you. We are meant to be together,” Ginny said softly and as sincere as anything he’d ever heard.
“I accept that you have feelings for me,” Harry said and shared a glance with Sirius who only nodded encouragingly. “You can’t help who you love and I’m sorry that you’re hurt by the fact that I don’t return those feelings.” He straightened when tears started to stream down her face. “What concerns me most, however, is the fact that you don’t care if I love you back.”
“That’s not true! I want you to love me, that’s why I used the potions.”
“It wouldn’t have been love, Ginny. Even if the potions had worked as soon as they wore off—the false affection the potions induced would have disappeared with them. You can’t make someone really and truly love you,” Harry said quietly. “So, it doesn’t matter to you if I really love you—you just want to own me. Love potions are selfish and destructive.”
“We are meant to be,” Ginny said stubbornly. She wiped her cheeks with shaking fingers. “I know it. We’re fated. I checked with the Ministry. They admit you have a fated soul mate but can’t release the name. I know that witch is me. I know it.”
“You had some Ministry flunky do a search for my name in the Book of Souls?” Harry demanded outraged while he privately acknowledged that they definitely needed to go the Ministry and check the book. “Are you out of your bloody mind?” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “I do have a fated soul mate, Ginny. I’ve already achieved a magical bond with him and that person is not you. It was never going to be you.”
“That’s not true! Malfoy has some kind of curse on you to make you say that. I know he’s influencing you. He probably has you under the Imperius.”
“I can fight off the Imperius,” Harry said. “Leave Draco out of this conversation, the only person in this house that has attacked me has been you.”
“He’s dark and he’ll join Voldemort. You can’t trust him, Harry. You just can’t. He’ll kill you the moment your back is turned.”
“We’ve been sharing the same bed since he arrived here,” Harry said icily and didn’t even flinch when Molly huffed in outrage. “If he’d wanted to end me he could have already done it. You on the other hand basically poisoned me.”
“That wasn’t my intention,” Ginny snapped then glared at him.
“No, your intention was quite clear,” Harry returned evenly. “Sirius told me that they found lust and fertility potions in your trunk. I won’t even begin to speculate why a fourteen year old girl would plan something so foolish and ridiculous. To put a fine point on it, even if you had managed to seduce me and get yourself pregnant while I was under the influence of a potion—all you would have done was set yourself to be charged with line theft. My family was declared ancient and noble over seven hundred years ago. Do you have any idea what that means?”
“No.” Ginny shook her head and lowered her gaze. “I mean besides you having a title?”
“It means that I could have taken your child the moment it was born and you would have never seen it again. No one would have forced me to marry you. You wouldn’t have gained access to my vaults and you certainly wouldn’t have had the honor of being the next Lady Potter,” Harry said and then took a deep breath. “I never intended on collecting on the Life Debt you owe me.” He paused when Arthur’s breath caught. “I suppose you thought I didn’t know anything about it. I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t saved Hermione’s life in first year. She did a lot of research of magical debts as a result.”
“You should’ve cancelled the debt. I was eleven for Merlin’s sake.”
“Yes, bright enough to attend Hogwarts. Bright enough to place second in your year despite being randomly possessed by the Dark Lord for most of your first year. Yet, not bright enough to know that you should have turned the diary in the moment it started talking back to you,” Harry returned dryly. “I never could figure that out, you know. You had the twins, Percy and Ron at school with you. You didn’t even try to tell them about the diary. I think you probably enjoyed the power and the mystery of that diary a little too much but that is neither here nor there.”
“I was afraid,” Ginny whispered. “I was always afraid.”
“A girl growing up with all the family support she could ever imagine should have never made the choices you made that year,” Harry returned. “As to the debt, Ginerva Molly Weasley, I call upon you to fulfill the Life Debt you owe me, Lord Harry James Potter. To satisfy the debt that Magic has deemed you owe me—you will vow on your magic to never interfere in my personal choices again.”
“That’s stupid,” Ginny exclaimed. “I’m not going to do it!”
“Yes, you will,” Arthur said quietly. “He could have asked for far more than that and he would have been justified. You have no idea how lenient he is being with you, Ginerva. You’ll make the vow.”
“No, I won’t. If I make a vow like that—when we get married he’ll get to make all of the decisions. I’ll be powerless.”
Harry stared at her, shocked and freaked out. “Ginny, I’m gay. I’m in love with another man. I will never, under any circumstances, marry you.”
“I don’t believe that. You’re just damaged and you need a mind healer,” Ginny scoffed.
Harry’s gut tightened and he looked at Molly who only nodded grimly. He absolutely hated what he was about to do. No matter his appearance, he was a grown man about to break a little girl’s heart. “I’m not in love with you. I’m never going to be in love with you. Your interest in me has always made me uncomfortable. I’m not some hero who is going to rescue you from a life you find dissatisfying for whatever reason. Even if I were interested in witches, I wouldn’t be interested in dating or marrying someone who has never bothered to have a real conversation with me. You know absolutely nothing about me that you didn’t read in some storybook or in the Daily Prophet. All of that stuff is fiction.”
“No. I’m sorry. It’s never going to happen. I have a responsibility to the wizarding world that might eventually get me killed and I don’t intend to sacrifice what little happiness I’m allowed to satisfy the fairytale dreams of a little girl. Make the vow willingly or I will have no choice but to have your father make the vow on your behalf as your Head of House. I know you don’t want that.”
Ginny’s bottom lip trembled and her eyes welled with tears. “Why are you being this way?”
“You could’ve killed me!” Harry shouted. “My magic reacted violently to that love potion—it couldn’t have hurt more if you’d cast a crucio at me. Not to mention how you endangered Draco. If you’d hurt him, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to be in the same room with you again.”
“Draco?” Ginny laughed, hard and bitter. “It’s all about poor Draco is it? He’s a monster! How can you even stand to be around someone who is so twisted they could kill their own father? He’s ruined, Harry. Nothing about him—not his mind, his heart, or even his magic will ever be the same because he murdered his own father.”
“It wasn’t murder,” Harry said quietly. “It was self-defense and regardless, Draco’s magic and soul are untainted. His family magic settled on him without punishment or rancor. Mr. Weasley, I’m sorry to request this of you.”
“No.” Arthur stood. “It is I who must apologize to you—I should have ended this conversation much earlier.” He paused and cleared his throat. “Ginerva Molly Weasley, as your Patriarch I order that you will not seek Lord Harry James Potter romantically as long as you shall live. You will not interfere with his personal choices. You will not seek to bend or alter his will by curse, hex, or potion. You will respect his position as a Peer of the Realm without question and never put yourself above your station by attempting to determine who he has the right to love.” Arthur’s wand started to glow at the tip. “You will accept this magical accord in order to satisfy the Life Debt that Magic has settled between you and Lord Harry James Potter without protest or you will be ritually disowned from the House of Weasley and your rights to our family magic will be stripped from you. So Mote It Be.”
Ginny stared at her father in horror for several seconds and shuddered as his magic settled on her sealing the accord.
“Let it be known if you violate the terms of this accord that you will be disowned and declared an oath breaker.”
Harry slouched down in his chair as Ginny started to sob. She jerked up to her feet and ran from the room, slamming the door behind her. “I’m so bloody sorry.”
“You tried to be gentle; she wouldn’t listen,” Sirius murmured. He set a short, fat glass on the table with a single finger of fire whiskey in it.
Harry picked up the glass and threw it back before Molly had time to complain and just sighed when she glared at them both. “Mrs. Weasley, I am the Lord of an ancient and noble house. Draco shares my bed because we both have nightmares. Horrible, gut wrenching nightmares that we share that leave us both physically ill.”
“You’re still a boy,” Molly whispered. “You’re taking on too much—no one should ask you to take all of this as your responsibility.”
“You know that I’m the center of the war with Voldemort.” He paused until she nodded her agreement. “It’s me or him, Mrs. Weasley. It was always going to be me or him. That is the way things are and no amount of coddling on your part is going to change that. What it will do is make other members of the Order treat me as if I’m incapable of being the wizard that Fate has required me to be. All you’ll do, if you continue on this path, is undermine me and make others distrust me in circumstances when I need their complete faith. I’m not a child. I’ve no memories of ever being a child and my mother is buried in Godric’s Hollow.”
* * * *
July 21, 1996
Harry pulled the t-shirt he was wearing over his head and dropped it on a collection of towels and clothes. Draco was in the middle of the sparring room in the basement of the manor, stretching. The nutrient potions he’d been taking since leaving Hogwarts and the extremely large meals had put Harry on an even front with Malfoy in both height and weight. Twin glimmers on Draco’s arms told Harry that he was wearing two disillusioned wands.
“Remind me to redo your disillusion charms on your holsters, I can see them.”
Draco snorted and stretched forward until he could put his forehead almost to the floor between his legs. “I never replaced the standard charms when I purchased them. Wanna hear something funny?”
“Abraxas’ wand works for me now.”
Harry stilled and turned to look at his lover. Abraxas Malfoy’s wand was White Oak and the heartstring of a Peruvian Vipertooth. The wand had actually repelled Draco in the first time line. His secondary wand, which most Pure-bloods chose from their family vault after leaving school, ended up being custom made as none of the wands in his vault had responded to him. Some had in fact quite harshly rejected him, much to Lucius’ amusement.
“Maybe your father had a hand in making sure it didn’t choose you before,” Harry said quietly. “I went through the Potter vault, I picked up the same wand as before and it’s already become my dominant wand. The holly wand submitted almost immediately.”
“Again,” Draco said with a sigh. “We really need to figure out who that wand belonged to.”
Harry nodded. The African Blackwood wand from his family vault had a dual core of a phoenix feather and a unicorn hair—which wasn’t uncommon for custom made wands and his family Grimoire said it had it been in the vault for five hundred or more years. It had allowed no one to carry it until Harry picked it up. He pulled off his shoes and then took a place of his own a few feet from Draco to warm up.
“How do you feel?”
“Irritated mostly,” Harry admitted.
It had been two days since he’d forced the vow on Ginny and all of the Weasleys in the house had been given him space. Ron and the twins had all apologized for what their sister had done. Hermione could hardly stand to look at Harry and after spending a few hours with him in the library she’d admitted that he’d screamed for nearly an hour while they’d flushed the potion from his body. It had given her nightmares and she didn’t even know that Snape had silenced him after that first hour. He’d refrained from apologizing for her discomfort mostly because he’d been waiting for her to realize how fucking uncomfortable he’d been with the whole thing. He was still waiting. Bright girl, but extremely oblivious.
* * * *
Fresh from a shower, Harry dropped down in his chair and stared at the piles of mail that Dobby had brought him. There were several legal documents that his solicitors had warned him to expect so he settled on tackling that pile first. He read through all four documents, signed off on three, and made changes on one before dropping them all in the finished box for Dobby to take care of.
He looked up and found Hermione Granger standing in front of him—her face all scrunched up in building ire. Harry sighed. “If this is about Dobby, I promise I will hex you.”
She huffed. “No, you obviously don’t care that you’re perpetuating myths put out by the Ministry to condone enslavement.” She crossed her arms. “Why wasn’t I invited into your conclave?”
He stared at her shocked. “What?”
“Your conclave. I overheard the twins talking about it and about you doing some ritual but then… their conversation would get muted and I couldn’t understand them.”
“You couldn’t understand their conversation because the entire event is under a secrecy charm,” Harry said coolly. “As for why you weren’t invited—you’re a witch.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Hermione demanded crossly. “I’m just as capable as any wizard!”
“Of course you are,” Harry said and then frowned. “Hermione, you do understand that conclaves are for wizards and covens are for witches, right? The two aren’t allowed to mix due to the complex nature of casting circles and ritual magic.”
“The magic is the same—it shouldn’t be different at all. This is just one more way for wizards to put themselves above witches.”
Harry sighed. “Not everything in the wizarding world is a bleeding conspiracy, Hermione. What is the full name of the school you attend?”
Hermione huffed and frowned at him. “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
“Now, do you suppose that witchcraft and wizardry are the same thing?” Harry asked. “If so, why didn’t the Founders just call the place the Hogwarts School of Magic.”
“We’re all taught the same thing! It should be just magic instead of separating us out.”
“We are taught to access our magic the same, yes, but witchcraft and wizardry are different. The magic of wizards is wilder while the magic of witches is calmer, less chaotic. Witches and wizards don’t perform ritual magic together because it can cause destabilization in the ritual as well as the outcome. A coven is extremely powerful because of the witchcraft they can wield together. The same can be said for a conclave. The mixing of the two is just an extremely poor idea and while it can be done—it doesn’t allow for complex and powerful magic to be performed. It would be a wasted effort.”
“It sounds sexist to me.”
“Why are you here?” Harry asked quietly. “If this quaint backward society bothers you so much… why do you stay? You make no effort to learn the etiquette, the social mores, or even the very foundation by which their society is molded. You strip magic of its beauty and mythology in your search for facts yet you ignore anything that doesn’t conform to your world view.” He held up a hand when she started to respond. “Dobby.”
The elf immediately popped into the room. “Yes, Master Harry?”
“Dobby, why did you create a bond with me when I freed you from Lucius Malfoy?”
Dobby hesitated and he lowered his gaze. “I is not wanting to go crazy and die, Master Harry.”
“Why did you pretend to be free?”
Dobby flushed. “So Mean Grangy witch wouldn’t know and tells you to free me.”
“Are you my slave?”
“No, Master Harry, I is yous bonded elf.” Dobby raised his head proudly. “Yous best Master ever.”
“Dobby do you know any elf that would want to be free?”
“No, Master Harry, to bes free is to die slow and hurts. It be hurting to be free. Winky hurts long time before she bonded with Master Dragon.” Dobby’s fingers twisted in his Harry Potter is a Badass t-shirt.
“Dobby, why do the elves at Hogwarts call Hermione the ‘Mean Grangy’?” Harry asked mildly and watched Hermione flush.
“Cause she be trying to kills them,” Dobby said earnestly. “Some call her She-Who-Cannot-Be-Named.”
Harry snorted before he could help himself and Hermione squeaked in alarm. “But she can’t free them can she?”
“Oh, nos, only Headmaster Dumbles can free elves at Hogwarts.” Dobby shook his head. “She just be being a terrorist.”
“Okay, you can go,” Harry murmured. He sat back in his chair and stared pointedly at Hermione. “Do you want to stay in this world, Hermione or do you plan to live as a Muggle after you graduate and only venture into the magical communities to buy books?”
She glared at him. “I’m not a terrorist.”
“You are to house elves and I believe the Headmaster already informed you how disrespectful your behavior was,” Harry sighed and rubbed his face. “There are a few books on conclaves and covens in the library.”
“They are all private Black family books and I can’t pull them off the shelf. I can’t read half the library in this house because of the stupid family wards,” Hermione snapped.
“They put up wards and protect certain books, objects, and rooms in their homes to keep them from being damaged or removed by non-family members. It’s common in wizarding homes. Even the Weasleys do it. No one but family can even enter their private library.”
“They don’t have a family library,” Hermione said and frowned at him. “I’ve never seen library room in their house.”
“Of course you haven’t,” Harry said evenly. “The door is warded so only family can even see it. The only reason I know about it is because I saw Percy coming out of it last summer with a book. There are several rooms in the Burrow that are hidden from non-family members—Arthur has a private office at home and Molly has a potions lab.”
“But…” She frowned. “Why would they hide them?”
“Because it’s their house and they can?” Harry asked exasperated. “Contrary to what you might think, Hermione, you aren’t entitled to know everything. Go ask Mrs. Weasley about covens and why wizards aren’t allowed in them.”
“What about your conclave?” Hermione demanded. “What kind of ritual are you doing?”
“My conclave is complete. All seven members have agreed to the unity of our magic and the ritual we are performing is private and none of your business.”
“No buts,” Harry said evenly. “It’s extremely private and it has nothing to do with you, Hermione.”
“I’m your friend,” Hermione protested. “If I can help…”
“You can’t help with this,” Harry said gently. “The Headmaster has already arranged for a senior conclave to gather to help with the ritual. It is a really personal and private matter, Hermione. However, if you’d like to discuss your extremely personal matters with me, I might be willing to be speak with you about it.”
“What kind of personal matters?” Hermione questioned. “I tell you everything already.”
Harry rocked in his chair. “When do you plan on losing your virginity? Do you masturbate often? Do you think about Ron every time or is it a different boy sometimes? Have you ever thought about me? Did you let Victor Krum do more than kiss you?” He paused as the color rapidly dropped out of her face. “What? You want to get in my personal business.”
“Those are really inappropriate questions!” Hermione hissed.
“So was yours,” Harry said evenly. “That’s how private ritual magic is within a conclave, Hermione. Hell, most ritual magic is cast naked. Which, by the way, is another reason why witches and wizards form separate circles to cast for ritual magic.”
“I’ll just go talk to Mrs. Weasley,” Hermione whispered. She paused at the door way and stared at him. “You didn’t use to be so… cruel, Harry. Malfoy is a poor influence on you.”
“I’ve always thought these things; I just never bothered to tell you because arguing with you is like beating your head up against a wall. Eventually, it hurts so much you hope you pass out.”
* * * *
“Boot wrote again.”
“I just bet he did,” Draco muttered. “I’m going to end him, Potter. I’ll make him think long and hard about trying to steal the boyfriend of a rumored Death Eater.”
“Shut it,” Harry said with a laugh and sighed. “Tell me why your father’s death hasn’t made the papers, yet.”
Draco frowned and glanced around the room—half the senior members of the Order were present including Alastor Moody. He sighed. “I own the Daily Prophet, Potter. I bought it four hours after I killed my father. That rag isn’t going to drag my mother’s misery out for the entire wizarding world to cluck over.”
He nudged Malfoy. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Didn’t think it mattered too much in the scheme of things. Though I do recommend you pick up the controlling stock in the Wizarding Wireless sometime in the next six months. With Tom Riddle running around like an idiot trying to lure Pure-bloods into joining his cause we’ll need to control how information about you is put out to the public.” Draco turned his attention back to the book he was reading.
“It’s going to come out.”
“It’s scheduled to be released on August 15th,” Draco admitted. “It’s no secret among my father’s friends because I sold off his shares of several businesses the day after. I’ve also ended their access to funds, closed the vault that my father started for Voldemort’s war chest, and generally made enemies left, right, and center.”
“How much money did you steal from Voldemort, lad?” Moody asked.
Draco spared the retired Auror a single glance before focusing on his book. “Not a single knut. All of that money was mine—my father was going to bankrupt the Malfoy Family Trust for that monster and live on my mother’s dowry money from the Blacks.”
“So you used the Dark Lord’s war chest to buy the Daily Prophet?” Moody asked dryly.
“Please, I bought the Daily Prophet using the interest from my trust fund,” Draco said dryly. “I’m going to use the Dark Lord’s war chest to live a big gay life with the Boy Who Kicked Voldemort’s Arse.” He lifted his gaze off the book and smirked at the older man. “I’ve already had the t-shirt commissioned for Dobby.”
“Dragon.” Harry sighed. “Are you responsible for that t-shirt he’s currently wearing?”
Draco shrugged. “It depends. Which one is he wearing?”
“My Master Can Kick Your Master’s Arse,” Remus Lupin said helpfully.
“My favorite is the one that says Voldemort—0 vs. Harry Potter – 4.” Sirius shared a smirked with Remus.
“I’m rather fond of the red one with the white letters that proclaims that Potter’s prick is bigger than the Dark Lord’s,” Snape said looking up from the letter he was busily writing at the large desk at the back of the room. “Molly tried to order him to take it off the last time she saw him wearing it. He told her not to be a mean Wheezy and ruin his fun times.”
Harry laughed before he could help himself and shook his head. “Well, I’m not even sure he has a dick… what with looking like a snake.”
“He does. It’s a nightmare,” Snape muttered. “He’s forcing me to research the reasons behind his performance issues since his return.”
“Performance issues?” Harry repeated.
“Wizards who delve too deeply into the Dark Arts can render themselves impotent. It destroys much of the body chemistry responsible for maintaining sexual arousal,” Snape explained icily.
“Like testosterone?” Harry questioned. “You know, the Muggles have a pill for impotence but really I don’t think you should work too hard on a cure… what if he tries to make an heir?” He shuddered at the thought.
“Actually, I believe he’s more interested in creating a new, more youthful body for himself,” Snape admitted. “Still, Muggle cures do not work on wizards and the Dark Lord is too far gone physically and magically to be helped in this arena. I research because he expects to see it but I think even he realizes that nothing can be done for him.”
“Merlin, stop talking about it before my cock crawls up into my stomach,” Sirius muttered. “I heard Hermione fussed at you about the conclave.”
Harry sighed. “The girl drives me around the bend with her constant jumping to conclusions. Granted, there are many situations in the magical world that I find morally repugnant but that doesn’t mean that everything that happens is a bleeding goddamned conspiracy against her or her ideals. I do keep waiting for her to burst out with her opinion about homosexuality though. It’s not well accepted by Muggles and her parents are very conservative from what she’s told me about them. I mean she puts up a good front about accepting but I’m curious as to her real opinion. She might accept that Draco and I are…” He trailed off and looked at Moody who had turned to stare at him. “What?”
“You’re just doing it to drive me mad,” Moody muttered.
“I have it on good authority that you were mad before I was ever born,” Harry proclaimed. “Besides, the Headmaster already told you what you need to know.”
Moody made a rude noise and glared at the two of them openly. “I know the wards were adjusted to announce my presence and that you were keyed to them, Potter.”
“Well, I did spend the better part of a year with Death Eater plotting against me who looked just like you,” Harry returned evenly. “Frankly, Moody, I have nightmares about you and the Dark Lord and Barty Couch, Jr. and even occasionally my Muggle uncle who liked to beat me unconscious for being a freak. When you keep that kind of company in my subconscious, it’s pretty difficult to trust you. Besides, you keep pointing your wand at my Dragon and that pisses me off.” He snorted when Moody frowned at him. “You paranoid old wanker.”
“You’re a naïve boy,” Moody muttered. “I don’t know why Albus listens to you about…” He gaze drifted to Malfoy’s form, sprawled elegantly on the couch with his head in Harry’s lap. “It’s a dangerous game you play, Potter.”
“He thinks you’re dangerous, Dragon.”
“I am dangerous,” Draco agreed. “I had no choice really… being this beautiful can be hazardous if one can’t defend himself.” He looked at Sirius. “Isn’t that right, Cousin?”
“Oh, it is,” Sirius agreed and crossed his legs at the ankle. He sighed. “It is the Black family curse to be beautiful and therefore required to be dangerous.”
“You’re both prats,” Harry said dryly. He ran his fingers through Draco’s hair slowly. “Tell me why I should trust you, Moody.”
“Dumbledore trusts me.”
“Am I to be my own man, Moody, or should I spend my life accepting Albus Dumbledore’s words and thoughts as the gospel?” Harry asked coolly. “Would you doom me to make his mistakes and live my life on his successes and failures rather than forge my own path?”
Moody glared at him but then sighed. “The day my sons and wife were killed by a dark wizard that I was supposed to be hunting down for the Ministry, I swore on my magic and on my life to always, no matter how difficult it might be, to fight for the Light. I have not wavered from that duty in the sixty-three years since.”
Harry stared at him in the silence that followed that statement and then inclined his head. “Would you like to see something completely improbable that will likely blow your mind?”
He let his fingers brush over Draco’s skin, something he’d avoided doing in Moody’s presence and gold light flashed bright and resilient over Draco’s face.
Moody huffed. “I’ll be damned.”
“Perhaps but surely for something much more fun,” Harry said dryly. “I trust you understand what this means.”
“I know a soul bond when I see one,” Moody snapped. He glared at them both. “How long have you known about this and why isn’t consummated? You know how dangerous it is to leave your bond unconsummated?”
“The books said nothing about it being dangerous,” Harry admitted. “We’re preparing a ritual for the consummation. I believe the Headmaster requested that you be at Hogwarts to help with our security during the event.”
“An incomplete bond means the pooling of your magic is chaotic and one of you could drain the other completely without even realizing it. There is no balance without consummation,” Moody said. “I had no idea you were part of the new conclave Albus brought together.”
“I’m not,” Harry admitted. “There will be two conclaves in the ritual. Draco and I chose the members of both which is why the Headmaster isn’t using his personal conclave for the ritual.”
Moody nodded and focused on Draco who was reading despite the conversation going on around him. “Do I concern you, Malfoy?”
Draco looked up from his book. “No, despite the rumors I heard about you torturing Death Eaters for information during the first war and the fact that you are paranoid as anyone alive. I grew up in the darkest situation many can even imagine. I spent my childhood listening to my mother being beaten and raped because of my father’s failings as a wizard. I was regularly physically and magically assaulted by him because he wouldn’t stand to have a weak heir. You aren’t much of a threat in comparison . At least I know, despite your reputation and appearance, that you’re a good man.”
“Well, he got what was coming to him,” Moody said. “Saw the body.”
Draco’s eyes darkened and returned his gaze to his book. “He should’ve just surrendered… he was no better than a bloody Gryffindor in the end. A true Slytherin would have surrendered so he could live and fight another day.”
“I can’t disagree with that,” Dumbledore said from the doorway. “Your mother is here, Lord Malfoy. She wants you with her upstairs.”
Draco tensed and closed his eyes briefly. Harry’s fingers stilled in his hair and then lifted away. “Right.”
“She is well on her way to recovering physically,” Severus murmured.
“I should put her in a mind healing clinic in Switzerland under a different name,” Draco muttered and then resolved silently to do just that. He had in the first time line after she’d nearly drank herself to death. This time he’d do it before she turned to fire whiskey.
Harry watched his lover leave with a heavy heart. Narcissa Malfoy had never accepted their relationship in the first timeline. True, she’d come to tolerate Harry being a part of Draco’s life but for the most part even after extensive mind healing she’d chosen to ignore the man her son was in love with because she believed Draco had started a relationship with the war hero to further himself politically. He was, to her estimation, too much like his father which hurt Draco more than Harry could even articulate. Would it be any different this time?
The magical marriage they’d completed shortly before being sent back in time had created a soul bond that had followed them into the past. Harry had never checked the Book of Souls in the previous timeline mostly because he didn’t want another bloody prophecy determining the rest of his life. Draco had found his reluctance amusing but they’d both come to believe they were destined to be together. He knew that the Book of Souls would tell him that Draco was his soul mate. He just wasn’t sure if it was because of their marriage vows or if Fate had decided to do him a favor after all.
“You shouldn’t let your dick do your thinking for you, boy.”
Harry’s jaw tightened with building fury. “You’re really starting to piss me off, Moody.”
“What is your archmagus partner going to think when he finds out you have a soul bond with the son of a Death Eater?”
Harry smirked at him and then laughed. “Merlin, Moody, I thought you already figured it out. Draco Malfoy is my archmagus partner.”
* * * *
“They wouldn’t tell me anything,” Narcissa murmured. “Except to say that you were safe in Sirius Black’s care and that he’d granted us sanctuary.”
“They were afraid you’d have to be moved to St. Mungo’s,” Draco admitted. “The Minister tried several times to see you moved there from Madame Pomfrey’s care but Dumbledore managed to forestall him. The Minister is fighting to remain in his chair while the Dark Lord’s supporters are trying to maneuver themselves into positions of power. I don’t think they expected Potter to support the Minister after the mess at the Department of Mysteries.”
Narcissa stared at him wide-eyed for a minute and then shook her head. “He is a brave young man.”
“I trust you’ll endeavor to not antagonize him here or at Hogwarts in the coming year,” Narcissa whispered. “We need to remain neutral in what is to come. Perhaps if we stay out of the Dark Lord’s way and leave the vault your father set up as it is… he’ll leave us alone and not punish you for what you did.”
“I’m sorry, Mother.” Draco took her hand and wondered how she would react when she realized the path she wanted to take was completely closed off to them both. “I asked him over and over again to submit… to stop fighting me but he wouldn’t do it.”
“I know.” Narcissa’s fingers trembled as she wrapped them around his. “Do I need to seek out a solicitor for you? Has the DMLE filed charges yet or is the investigation still being pursued?”
“I was cleared of all charges,” Draco murmured. “Once they found the Dark Mark on him and reviewed my memory of the fight—they declared that I had acted in your defense and then in the defense of my own life. Legally, I’m free of it. The family magic settled on me without any sort of punishment being levied. I haven’t… had any direct contact with any of my friends from Hogwarts but I can’t imagine that I will be well received by them all, not after they find out the rest.”
“The rest of what?” Narcissa asked softly as if she couldn’t believe anything could be bigger than what she already knew.
“I’ve been involved with Harry Potter for a while now,” Draco said softly. “Romantically involved.”
“Romantically…” Narcissa took a deep breath. “Draco, no, this cannot continue. It will only antagonize the Dark Lord and we must… we must do everything we can to stay out of his way.”
“No.” He released her hand. “I’m not my father, Mother and I’m not going to bow down to that evil git and kiss his boots to survive. I won’t give up Harry—not for you and most certainly not out of fear of that half-blood monstrosity that my father worshipped. The Malfoys bow to no one and my grandfather was right—I’m twice the wizard Lucius was. He would have seen us ruined—our family legacy tarnished beyond all redemption for his ridiculous and foolish blood politics.”
“Draco, I must insist…”
“I’m the Head of this family,” Draco said tightly. “I realize you’ve been brainwashed for the last twenty years to fear the Dark Lord but he is not all powerful and he will be defeated. Harry Potter will defeat him and I will be at his side—as his friend, as his lover, and his bonded soul mate and magical partner. It’s the place fate and magic have gifted me with. I will not ignore it and I will remain the one person in his life he can always depend on.”
Narcissa stared at her son in horror. “His soul mate? Have you lost your mind? Have you already bonded with him?”
“Our bond has been sealed magically—we lack only the physical consummation. It is far too late to back out now,” Draco murmured. “Not that I would even if it were an option. There is nothing I won’t suffer to stand with him, Mother. I need you to understand and respect that.”
“But…” Narcissa shuddered. “They’ll seek to kill him through you.”
“Even the Dark Lord would not be so foolish as to attack me in order to kill Potter,” Draco murmured. “He’ll have to face Potter head on—an act against me with that kind of intent could render him a squib. There is a reason why fated pairs are often deemed ‘untouchable’ as no one person’s intent is pure enough.”
Narcissa nodded numbly. “You are certain? There is no doubt that you are fated? Have you checked the Book of Souls.”
“No, we haven’t checked.”
“Please check,” Narcissa whispered. “I beg of you to check and then to see that the information is published far and wide. It would protect you from both sides… I can’t imagine everyone on the Light side will appreciate their Golden Boy being tarnished by the son of a Death Eater.”
Draco couldn’t disagree with that. “We haven’t discussed making our bond public knowledge.”
“It will be as soon as it’s fully consummated. Such unions are always announced to the Ministry due to the uniqueness of fated pairings,” Narcissa whispered. “If it isn’t announced, no one will believe it and you will be in great danger. This is the wrong path for us, Draco. We should leave Britain… perhaps we could go to the Americas.”
“I’m going to send you away,” Draco murmured. “There is a clinic in Switzerland—no one will know you are there. It’s for the best.”
“You don’t have a choice,” Draco said shortly. “You’ve suffered years of mental and physical trauma. I can’t trust you to respond in situations in a way that is healthy. I’m sorry, Mother.”
“You can’t just send me away,” Narcissa protested. “I’m your mother!”
“I’ve already claimed the title, Mother,” Draco said shortly. “And Lord Black agrees with me that you are suffering in ways that you cannot cope with on your own.”
“Harry Potter will be the death of you,” Narcissa whispered. “You have an obligation to your House…”
“I am aware of my responsibilities,” Draco murmured. “And you’re one of those responsibilities… your health is very important to me. I want you to focus on healing and dealing with your new circumstances.”
“He’s my soul mate,” Draco whispered fiercely. “I need you to understand and accept that. If this life is short—it won’t matter because I will be loved and cherished by him for eternity. I’ve received the most amazing gift, Mother.”
She nodded but her breath caught and tears streamed down her face. “I can’t lose you, Draco. I can’t.”
“You won’t,” Draco touched her hair carefully and sighed when she curled into him and started to cry in earnest against his neck. “You haven’t lost a son, Mum, you’ve gained another. If you give him the chance he will love and honor you as much as I do. He has no memories of his own mother and he was raised by a cruel, vicious woman. All he wants is acceptance and love—he’s surrounded by people who want to be around him for his wealth or his fame. Those that don’t care about that want to control him in one way or another.”
Narcissa nodded against him, but her fingers clenched against his shirt and he held her tighter. He didn’t know what else to do. He knew it wasn’t all about him. His mother’s marriage to Lucius Malfoy hadn’t been arranged—they’d wed out of love. At least, she had married out of love. Draco wasn’t sure he could ever believe his father was capable of loving anyone but he would leave his mother with her memories of that grand, romantic love because anything else would be a cruelty.
“The Dark Mark corrupts,” Draco whispered. “It destroys everything it touches, just like the Dark Lord himself. Whatever he might have been before he took the Mark… Lucius was destroyed by his own actions when he accepted the Mark.”
Narcissa nodded. “He loved me once. I know that.”
Draco nodded. “Of course, he did.”
“He used to hold you and take you everywhere to show people how beautiful and magical his son was,” Narcissa whispered. “Your eyes used to sparkle so brightly with your magic before your core settled.”
Because he was magical, Draco thought. Though it was theoretically impossible for a child born of ritual to be a squib… he had to wonder how his father would have reacted if Draco hadn’t been so magical at the time of his birth. After all, despite his strength, his childhood had been a mixture of joys and horrors. He couldn’t imagine what he would have suffered if Lucius had thought him magically weak.
“You’ll get better,” Draco whispered as he ran his fingers through her hair. “We both will and time will move on. I promise you that Harry and I will do everything within our power to live and give you beautiful grandchildren with bright sparkling green eyes and my hair because Merlin, I wouldn’t wish Potter’s hair on my worst enemy.”
Narcissa laughed abruptly and lifted her head. “The boy is a disaster, isn’t he?”
“Yes,” Draco nodded. He brushed her hair back from his face. “But he’s mine and I adore him, Mother. I love him so much that I don’t know how I could possibly exist without him.”
“That is the nature of those who are fated,” Narcissa whispered. She sat back and wiped her face with trembling fingers. “I wish to stay close to you, Draco. I don’t want to go to Switzerland.”
“School starts in two months. I’m selfish enough that I’d really like to keep you here with me until that time but I do believe you’d heal more quickly in Switzerland.” Draco said. “You’ll be stuck in this house because I know that Death Eaters will try to acquire you to use against me… to blackmail me into giving them the money Father promised them.”
Narcissa stared at him in horror. “You took the gold back?”
“Of course I did,” Draco snapped. “I’m not letting that psychotic wanker use the wealth my forefathers spent hundreds of years cultivating to fund his ridiculous blood war. He’ll have to beg, borrow, and steal to get what he wants. Our money would have paved the way for him to bribe and control many of the people in the Ministry. That’s the last thing this situation needs. It’s going to be bad enough with Fudge acting the way he is.”
* * * *
July 22, 1996
“My mother wants us to check the Book of Souls,” Draco murmured. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to successfully pull this off if we aren’t listed.”
Harry frowned. “We are soul mates though.”
“Yes, but fated implies that we’ve lived and bonded in a previous life,” Draco murmured. “We didn’t do that glowing thing in the first timeline.”
“No, I kind of figured it was a side effect of us getting married with the ancient rite but not consummating it before Neville fucked us over and sent us back in time to live all this bullshit again.” Harry waved a hand and cast a heating charm on their bathwater while Draco renewed the charm to churn the water. He ran his toes along Draco’s thigh under the water. “What does virginity actually mean?”
Draco laughed. They’d refrained from getting sexual with each other. It hadn’t been too difficult despite the differences they were facing on a hormonal level. They’d both worked hard to create a well-rounded relationship that wasn’t based on sex. In fact, in the first timeline they’d dated for nearly six months before making love for the first time.
“An act of penetration so that means we should definitely avoid oral and anal sex,” Draco said.
“Except we really aren’t virgins,” Harry said dryly.
“We are physically,” Draco reminded. “That might be enough for the ritual as it does specify physical purity in the preparation language. The problem is, of course, the two of us faking inexperience in front of seven sexually experienced wizards. I don’t know about the boys we picked for our conclave but Sirius and Severus could notice.”
“We have to come at the same time,” Harry muttered. “How in the hell do two virgins accomplish that?”
Draco laughed. “Well, the magic of the ritual will force us both to climax at the same time if we are successful. If we are not—it won’t be.”
“Right.” Harry frowned and cast a soap spell on the sponge he plucked from the side of the tub. “So, top or bottom?”
Draco raised an eyebrow. “You know I prefer to bottom.”
“Are you okay with being on bottom in front of…” He sighed. “Ron might take a piss, you know.”
Draco flushed and averted his gaze. “It would hardly be the first time he has if he does, Harry. He often made snide comments in the other timeline about me that way.”
Harry glared at the water, fury pooling in his gut. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Things were already difficult enough for you with him and I didn’t want to add to it. After he washed out of Auror training and ended up working at that junk shop in Knockturn Ally while he was training to work at St. Mungo’s… you two had some pretty harsh arguments over me.”
“He resented you for succeeding where he failed and for being an archmagus.”
Draco sighed. “It’s not like he ever put any effort into the Auror training. I don’t even think he wanted to be an Auror at all.”
“No, maybe not, but he was furious when I agreed to train with you and be your partner officially. The archmagus stuff didn’t even matter to him. He said I should ignore it and ignore you as much as possible,” Harry admitted.
“Yeah, then I committed the ultimate sin by not getting back with his sister and falling in love with you.”
“You always refused to discuss this before.”
“I didn’t want to dwell on it and you already had a lot on your plate with your mother and all of that bullshit without shouldering more guilt for how my relationship with the Weasleys fell apart.” Harry leaned back against the tub and let his head drop against the wall. “It’s not working out much better in this timeline either. I mean, Molly and Arthur are certainly different at this point. Ginny using that love potion on me… I don’t think she did that so soon in the previous timeline.”
“Really?” Draco demanded. “Then how do you explain that ridiculous relationship you had with her sixth year?”
Harry’s gaze widened and he took a deep breath. “Oh.”
“Merlin, Harry, you’re utterly gay! There was nothing natural about your attraction to Ginny.”
“Right.” Harry frowned. “I just always assumed that time at the Ministry Ball was the first time she tried.”
“Something is bothering you,” Draco said softly. “You’ve been brooding for a while and I’ve let you, but don’t you think it’s time you talked about it?”
“Ginny requested a records search from the Department of Mysteries regarding the Book of Souls where she claimed to be my soul mate,” Harry murmured. “They confirmed that I had a record in the Book of Souls but they didn’t release the name of my fated. Ginny assumes it is her.”
Draco sighed and sat back in the garden tub they’d been sharing for nearly a half hour. “She told you this when you requested that vow of non-interference, right?”
“We’ll go check. Mother said the bonding, once recognized by magic, would be announced widely because fated couples are so rare. I mean there have only been three recorded fated couples in the last few hundred years. Soul mate bonds are a little more common as they only require love, commitment, and the true desire by both parties to spend eternity together.”
“So…” Harry frowned. “Fated pairings are just people who have been reborn at the same time as their bonded soul mate.”
“Yes. Only one in every seven hundred magical marriages result in a soul bond,” Draco explained. “And since reincarnation among magical people is supposedly uncommon—fated pairs are rare.”
“So people will assume we were reincarnated instead of…” Harry waved a hand. “The victims of a Longbottom plot.”
“I prefer it,” Draco said dryly. “We’d never live down the truth—even if the Ministry didn’t kill us or turn us into vegetables trying to strip information out of our heads. We’re trained hit wizards and archmagus for fuck’s sake.”
Harry laughed and used the sponge to scrub at the scar Peter Pettigrew had left on his arm. It was dark red and ugly—in the future he’d used a skin regeneration potion to get rid of the majority of the scars on his body. Draco reached out and took the sponge. “Hey, you can’t rub it off, Harry,” Draco murmured gently. “It’s okay.”
“It’s not,” Harry muttered.
“We’ll pull out the cursed skin regeneration potion next,” Draco said. “If you want…”
“Limb regeneration would be more beneficial,” Harry murmured. “Especially since Death Eaters like to maim Aurors by removing limbs. Moody is a prime example of that. Getting those people back up and in the field as soon as possible is far more important than this stupid scar. That and the healing spells… especially the field healing spells. Those will be the most important.”
“I don’t know how to distribute the spells without people getting curious,” Draco admitted.
“I was thinking… there are several famous spell creators in my family tree. My father never had a chance to review the family grimoires. I pulled out three and none of them can be read by anyone but me. I’ll go through them and pull out helpful spells that were never published and intermix them with the spells for healing that we created in the future. There is no real money in spell creation so even those four or five that we didn’t personally create won’t be… well, we aren’t taking food out of someone’s mouth.”
“Right.” Draco sighed. “And the five potion masters that we are robbing blind?”
“I say we offer them jobs in our foundation—pay them obscenely well and give them the research opportunities of a lifetime. Most of them were shafted by the Ministry anyways—if we tuck them into our private company we can protect them and their future intellectual property. Also, they can work on improving the potions that we already have… continuing their own work, so to speak. It’s not perfect and it’s probably amoral but these are our circumstances.”
“We need to keep an eye on Longbottom and it’s our mission in life to keep that wizard out of the Department of Mysteries as much as possible. If the Brains like him… it’s just a bad sign. You know they only talk to people who are susceptible to their influence.” Draco slid forward and confidently settled in his lover’s lap with a small smirk.
“This could be a bad idea,” Harry murmured. He ran his hands down Draco’s back and cupped his arse to pull him closer. “You’re hell on my good intentions.”
There was an abrupt knock on the door and then Sirius Black pushed open the door. “Merlin, Sirius!” Harry shouted.
“Me?” Sirius demanded. “You two promised you could hold off until the ritual!” He covered his eyes with one hand and pulled his wand. “Don’t make me cast chastity charms on the both of you. Out of that tub, Malfoy!”
Draco laughed and hastily scrambled out of the bubbling water. “You cast a chastity charm on me Black and I’ll declare a feud. Those things even prevent masturbation.” He threw on his robe and stalked out of the bathroom.
Harry sighed and sprawled back down in the tub. “You suck. I said we’d wait and I meant it.”
Sirius lowered his hand and holstered his wand to glare at his godson. “I was sixteen once and I didn’t have a built-in sex partner.”
“Built-in?” Harry laughed. “It isn’t like that, Sirius.” He picked up the sponge and cast a wandless charm to fill the tub with bubbles. “Get out. I’m pretty sure I haven’t needed help bathing since I was two.”
Sirius glared and then huffed. “When your aunt dies—Lily is going to meet her in the afterlife and curse her into hell personally.” He leaned on the counter but stared out into Harry’s bedroom. “Why isn’t it like that? I mean… you have that whole soul mate thing going on, right? That’s what the golden glow stuff means? No other explanation makes sense unless it’s something to do with the archmagus thing.”
“Yeah,” Harry shrugged and sighed. He cancelled the charms on the tub and exited the water. He pulled on a thick terry cloth robe as he left the bathroom, leaving his godfather to trail along behind him. Draco had already dressed and left the room. “It isn’t like we have some kind of sexual dysfunction, Sirius.”
“Well, I’d hope you would have let us know if one of you was having performance issues,” Sirius muttered. “That would certainly cock up the ritual.” He paused. “No pun intended.”
Harry laughed and used a drying charm on his hair before heading towards his closet. The robe had a built in drying charm, which had been weird years ago when Draco had gifted him with the first drying robe he’d ever had.
“I love him… deeply in some part of me that I can’t even touch.”
He pulled out slacks and a button down shirt before going to a dresser to pluck pants and an undershirt out as well. He dressed casually, unconcerned about being naked in front of his godfather. Sirius had already seen the scars and while he could tell it still bothered him to look at them, he had at least stopped losing his temper every time Harry took his shirt off in front of him.
“That much is very obvious, Harry. You look at him like he’s your whole world,” Sirius said quietly. “It’s enviable.”
“The fact is that we’d probably wait a little bit longer for intercourse if it wasn’t important to consummate our bond physically.”
“Oh.” Sirius frowned. “Is this part of the Muggle thing? I mean you realize that a great many of your peers at Hogwarts are probably sexually active.”
Harry laughed abruptly. “If I’ve walked in on Oliver Wood getting head in the shower once, I’ve walked in on him like fifty times. The first time—I was eleven and it was after a game in the locker room and they were horrified. The last time I was thirteen and Oliver just told me to cover my eyes. Not to mention the twins fucked up relationship with Lee Jordan.”
“Fucked up?” Sirius asked.
“They share him,” Harry muttered. “Like he’s a jumper or something. I mean they have girlfriends, but that doesn’t stop them from going at Lee like he’s the next best thing to chocolate.” He paused and frowned. “You didn’t have sex with my dad, did you?”
Sirius had the grace to blush furiously and avert his eyes. “Well.”
“He didn’t start dating your mother until our seventh year,” Sirius protested. “I slept with all of my year mates in Gryffindor and… well, a good third of the ones in Slytherin and Ravenclaw.”
“What, were all the Hufflepuffs ugly?” Harry asked exasperated and sort of horrified. “Wait, did you sleep with Snape?”
“Merlin, yes, that man is the best shag in Europe,” Sirius admitted and then grinned when Harry turned to look at him, wide-eyed. “No, seriously, he’s a beast.”
“Oh my god.” Harry shoved his feet into a pair of black dragon hide dress shoes and shivered a little. “He’s rather attractive in that dark, grudge sex kind of way.”
“Too right,” Sirius admitted. “I’ve been considering getting a leg up on that again but he’s so mean.”
“Nothing quite like fucking someone you hate, I’m sure,” Harry said and then grinned when Sirius just smirked. “You’re horrible. Shouldn’t you be a positive influence on me or something?”
“Nah, you’ve got plenty of decent people around for that—I don’t want to muddy the waters. Besides, James promised me when he made me your godfather that I could be the one to ruin you for polite company.” Sirius inclined his head. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“I need to go look at the Book of Souls,” Harry said quietly. “It’s important.” He inclined his head. “Can you be out in public, yet?”
“Oh yeah, my innocence has been spread far and wide. Kreacher has had a devil of a time with all of the condolence letters and offers for… emotional support.”
“Emotional support,” Harry muttered. He’d admit freely that his godfather was a sexy bastard—probably one of the most attractive men in his life outside of his Dragon but he didn’t want to think about him having sex. Well, he shouldn’t think about him having sex—it was creepy and it was probably some kind of emotional or intellectual incest or something. “Great, so you can go to the Ministry with me.”
Sirius made a face that said he didn’t want to do that at all but he nodded. “Amelia Bones is all over me to get recertified as an Auror—at least for the reserves.”
“You must have had a great record as an Auror.” Sirius had been one of the most decorated Aurors on the force before Crouch had thrown him in prison without a trial because of his own prejudices against the Black family.
“Yeah, I did actually but I don’t…” Sirius sighed and shrugged. “None of them questioned me going to Azkaban without a trial and that bothers the fuck out of me.”
“Are you sure about that?” Harry asked quietly. He’d reviewed his godfather’s file after he’d joined the force and found out that every single head Auror that had taken the job after Sirius was arrested had requested a review of Sirius’ so-called ‘secret’ trial but higher ups in the Ministry had worked their ass off to cover up for Barty Crouch’s wartime crimes.
Sirius paused and then shook his head. “No, not really.”
“You were one of them, Sirius. I have to think one of the reasons why Fudge sent the Dementors out after you was that he didn’t think the Aurors would kill you on sight the way he wanted,” Harry said softly. “There would have been an inquiry and a trial if Aurors had caught up with while you were on the run. The public would have demanded answers about how you escaped Azkaban and why you apparently wanted to kill me. In some ways, the Minister is damned lucky that the Aurors didn’t catch you.” He inclined his head. “Did they ask you about your escape?”
“Yes, but I refrained from answering in a public trial as to not expose a serious breach in the offenses and defenses in the prison. I agreed to write a report at a later date discussing the weaknesses I found in the prison,” Sirius smirked. “Shortly after the formal hearing, I went the Magical Registration department and registered my animagus form. I was supposed to register before I was twenty-five but I was in Azkaban at that time so I was given a waiver.”
Harry burst out laughing. “Sometimes magical people are so daft that it defies imagination, ya know.”
“I do know,” Sirius admitted and then grinned. “It works out great for those of us with even a tiny bit of common sense.”
“Which is why my ancestors made so much money,” Draco said airily as he swept into the room in a set of fashionable robes.
“You ponce,” Harry said fondly.
Draco snorted. “You and I both know who the queen is in this relationship, Potter. Wear the dark red robes with that shirt and don’t forget your second wand.”
* * * *
The atrium was busy but they hurried through the checkpoint—each man forking over a single wand without blinking an eye before heading into the bowels of the Ministry towards the Department of Mystery. The Book of Souls was housed in the department and they’d owled ahead so they were expected.
They stepped out of the lift and an arm reached out and snatched Draco before anyone even realized they weren’t alone.
“If isn’t Lucius’ little whelp…” Yaxley hissed and then before he could say anything else Harry shoved his foot into the back of the older wizard’s knee, ramming him into the wall and wrenching his lover away from the man he knew to be a Death Eater. He grabbed a fist full of the man’s hair and had him on his knees before a few dozen Aurors and Unspeakables.
“You ever put your hands on him again and I’ll make you beg for Voldemort’s attention,” Harry snapped and then shoved him flat on the floor. He glared at Shacklebolt who was coming at him at a near run. “Seriously? You just let Death Eaters roam around down here as pretty as you please?”
“Look, kid, he’s an Auror I don’t know where you get off…” Dawlish trailed off when Potter leveled his wand at him.
“That’s Lord Potter to you, Auror Dawlish. As to where I get off, this wanker was called to Voldemort’s side when he was resurrected.” He kicked Yaxley over before anyone could interfere further and sent a low powered slashing hex at his arm—flaying the material of his sleeve open and exposing a very active and pulsing Dark Mark.
Yaxley tried to reach for his wand and Draco casually kicked him in the face, knocking him unconscious and splattering blood all over the wall and Harry’s shoes. “Oh, sorry.” He cast a cleaning charm on the shoes and then wrapped his hand around Harry’s wrist. “Come along, Lord Potter, we have an appointment and I’m sure Auror Dawlish has some paperwork or something since he’s about to arrest a real live Death Eater. It’s probably the most excitement he’s had since he cursed a little old witch into a wall at Hogwarts.”
“Right.” Harry frowned at everyone who was still staring at them dumbfounded including Snape and Sirius. Dawlish had been one of the Aurors to stun McGonagall. “Seriously?” He cast an Incarcerous spell on Yaxley just in case he came to before their audience recovered. “Malfoy, you’re taking a shower as soon as we get home—I can’t believe that corrupt fucker touched you.” He prodded Draco down the hall and hissed at the godfathers to come along as he did so.
Sirius cleared his throat. “Yes, well.” He waved his hand at Yaxley and shrugged. “Lord Potter aka the Boy-Who-Lived just caught you a Death Eater. You guys will look like right idiots if he gets away from you.” He turned and strolled down the hall in the wake of Snape’s billowing cape.
* * * *
The Book of Souls was a deceptively slim book on a glass pedestal in the middle of an otherwise empty room. Harry appreciated the dramatics but kept his amusement to himself. The witch who brought them into the room bore a striking resemblance to Sybill Trelawney so Harry hadn’t been surprised to find out she was his former Divination teacher’s younger sister, Celeste.
“If you will place your hands on the pedestal and speak your full name,” Celeste began softly. “The book will open and reveal the page with your name on it… if your name is in the book. Don’t be disappointed if it is not—very few wizards and witches names are entered into the Book of Souls. We haven’t had a fated pairing in Great Britain in nearly two hundred years—the last known pairing was in France.”
Harry nodded and placed his hands on the pedestal as she indicated. “Lord Harry James Potter.”
The book flipped open immediately and the pages fluttered before settling. A soft white light projected off the book as the pages stopped fluttering and Harry took a deep breath. He stared at the page for a few seconds, letting the relief settle on his bones.
Celeste made a soft sound of surprise. “Oh.”
“You seem surprised,” Harry murmured. “Your office answered a request concerning my name being in this book.”
“Those letters are answered automatically,” Celeste admitted with blush. “I place the inquiries on the book, unread, and the responses appear in the owlery ready for delivery. This is to prevent anyone from gathering knowledge on a pairing in order to prevent them from bonding.”
Harry nodded. “So, only I can look at this page?”
“Only and your soul mate,” Celeste corrected.
Harry held out his hand for Draco and the Slytherin visibly relaxed. “I knew there was nothing to worry about.” He pressed a kiss against Draco’s temple and they glowed gold for a few seconds as they both stared at the book.
Harry looked at Celeste. “I trust that you will keep this a secret, Madame Trelawney. We are a dangerous point in our bonding and it could be disastrous if we were separated or harmed during this phase. Our pooling magic might react extremely violently to a transgression against us.”
“Oh, yes, of course. I understand.” Celeste nodded and blushed. “I’m so pleased for you both—it is an honor to be here with you today and I wish you both a long and productive life together.”
“Excellent.” Harry stepped back from the pedestal and the book closed with a swoosh of magic.
Fudge was out in the hall when they emerged from the room. Harry outright sighed at the man. “I refuse to be charged with assaulting a Death Eater on the grounds that he had it coming.”
Fudge winced and took a step back from him. “Yes, well, I actually heard that you were in the building and wished to speak with you privately.”
“Not even if you threatened to set my Firebolt on fire,” Harry said dryly. “However, you are welcome to accompany us to the exit.” He motioned the minster to follow. “What did you wish to discuss, Minister?”
“Well, I was hoping we could talk about your archmagus partner.” His gaze flicked to Malfoy and then to the room they’d just exited. “You’ve a listing in the Book of Souls?”
“Minister, you are intruding on matters that are none of your concern,” Harry murmured. “So much time has passed since our discussion and yet I’ve noticed that very few of the changes that I requested have actually been implemented. I do congratulate you on your Azkaban Review Committee. I hope they will be very productive.”
“Yes. Yes. I’m sure they will,” Fudge allowed. “New laws require…”
“In situations of war, the Minister for Magic can pass laws specific to maintaining the safety and continuance of the magical government. If you declare a state of war, which is your right, then you can bypass the Wizengamot and give the Aurors their funding and pass laws regarding the Dark Mark.”
“Yes, well, people…”
“Will believe what they are told. You don’t honestly think we aren’t at war, do you, Cornelius?” Harry questioned tightly. “It’s my understanding that Voldemort’s forces have all but wiped out two magical villages and tried to launch attacks on Diagon Alley four times in the last month. I find your lack of a formal response distressing as it indicates that you apparently do not care about the safety of your own citizens.”
“Yes, I well, I have matters to see to,” Fudge announced and darted away as they came to the section of lifts they’d used to get down into the bowels of the Ministry.
Draco watched a pale and shaken Fudge hurry away and then he sighed. “Merlin, Potter, that was so hot.”
“Bullying an idiot is hot?” Harry asked dryly as they turned the corner and found themselves facing a half dozen Aurors who were staring at them in shock. “You heard that I suppose?”
Amelia Bones nodded. “Yes, I rather pleased to say we did.”
“And yes, that was hot!” A young woman said and offered Harry a little wink while her hair turned three different shades of red in the space of a few seconds.
“Hello, Tonks,” Harry said quietly and tilted his head slightly in acknowledgement. “Madame Bones, how can I help you?”
“I’d like to see the memory of the Dark Lord’s resurrection, if that is possible.”
Harry paused and considered how to answer that. “It was an extremely traumatic and personal event for me, Madame Bones. I will discuss it with the Headmaster and I’ll get back to you on that.”
Bones gaze flicked to the hallway behind them. “The Book of Souls is a unique and powerful artifact that was enchanted by Merlin himself.”
“I found it be a rather dry read,” Harry returned evenly and ignored the gasps of shock that followed his response as he focused entirely on Amelia Bones. In the previous timeline, she’d died early on the war and it had been a tragedy because a woman like her could’ve done a lot in the war and in the Ministry to keep the Death Eaters out. “It would be wise, Madame Bones, to upgrade your personal security and perhaps the wards on your home as well. The goblins do excellent ward work.”
Everyone stilled around them and Amelia Bones’ mouth tightened into a thin line even as she paled. “Is there a reason I should do that?”
“Beyond the fact that you are the head of the DMLE in a time of war?” Harry asked rhetorically. “I believe the Ministry would be poorer without your influence and that there are many within the Death Eater ranks that know this. Voldemort will surely move against the DMLE soon as to throw the war response into disarray and perhaps allow someone of his choice into your position.”
“Are you saying there are Death Eaters among my aurors?”
“Can you say for certain there are not?” Harry questioned. His glance flicked to Dawlish and the man flushed a dull red. “Perhaps not Death Eaters, yet, but it doesn’t take much—influence or power to corrupt the weak. Take for instance, someone so greedy and thrilled with a small amount of power granted him by a nasty little toad that they might find it easy to stun a woman old enough to be his great grandmother into a wall for no other reason than she was in his way.”
“I was doing my job,” Dawlish snapped.
Harry smiled, hard and vicious. “One day, Dawlish, I’m going to make you pay for doing your job so zealously. Minerva McGonagall is dear to me—she’s dear to many and you can’t think you’ll go unpunished for what you did to her.” He waved a hand in dismissal when the man started to speak to again. “You have no honor, Dawlish, and one day that will bear out in ways that will horrify even you.”
July 24, 1996
Harry jerked awake, the clang of the ward alarm echoing in his head. When he was conscious, the wards tinkled like bells in his ear when someone entered the house—but when he was asleep it was like a dinner bell. It was extremely fucking annoying. Moody kept the stupidest schedule known to man. Draco stirred briefly but Harry put his hand on his shoulder to still him. “It’s nothing.”
But he was wrong because shortly after he laid back down there was a sharp knock on the door. He left the bed and stumbled to the door dressed in a pair of pajama pants. Sirius glanced him over and sighed.
“What? I was asleep.”
“Get dressed and wake Draco. Dumbledore and Moody need to see you both immediately.”
By the time they made it down to the kitchen, it was nearly dawn. Kreacher was at the stove preparing tea and Dobby was rummaging through the cooling cabinet for breakfast supplies. Harry dropped down in the chair at the table and stared pointedly at Dumbledore while Draco called for Winky and asked for coffee for them both.
Dumbledore accepted the tea tray from Kreacher and set about preparing himself a cup. “Alastor and I had a bit of an adventure and we’ve just returned.”
Moody put a black moleskin bag on the table in front of him and snagged himself an empty cup from the tray. “You did good to warn him, Potter. Beyond the protections surrounding it—it had compulsion charms designed to make the first magical to come into contact with it want to put it on.”
“I figured as much,” Harry admitted. “I think the diary had something similar—something that compelled the owner to write in it. When I briefly had it during second year, I felt like I needed to interact with it despite the fact that I knew that it was dangerous and that it had something to do with what was going on in the school.”
Draco cleared his throat. “Winky, would you come here please?”
Winky darted over immediately. “Coffee is almost ready.”
“Good.” Draco nodded. “I need to ask something special of you, Winky. You will carry it with you the rest of your life—even after I’m gone and you have a new master.”
Winky frowned at that. “Winky not wanting to be freed Master Draco. I is a good elf.”
“You are the best elf,” Draco agreed. “I need you to swear on your magic to never speak of the secrets Harry and I will share with you. If we tell you that something is secret—you will guard it with everything you are and never reveal it to anyone without our permission.”
Winky nodded her head slowly. “Winky swear on her magic to keep Master Draco and Master Harry’s secrets.”
Harry wasn’t surprised at all by how easily the house elf gave the vow. It was inherent in her personality to want to please the family she was bonded to. He glanced towards Dobby and found the elf staring intently, looking slightly dejected. Harry wanted to be amused but in the end all he could see is Bellatrix throwing that knife at Dobby and killing him. Dobby’s loyalty to him was beyond reproach—beyond anything he could imagine.
The elf popped across the room rather than walking he was so excited. “Yes, Master Harry.”
Harry did laugh then which made Dobby smile, wide and innocent. “I consider you a loyal and valued friend to the House of Potter, Dobby.”
“Dobby is pleased to know, sir.”
Harry nodded. “I trust you, Dobby. I want you to know that and I wouldn’t ask something so dangerous from you if it wasn’t so very important.”
“Dobby make the vow. Dobby not scared.” He exhaled sharply. “Dobby help fight the Dark Lord. Dobby is a good elf.”
“I know you are,” Harry said sadly. “I know that you would do anything to protect me and my family. I ask this vow of you to keep you safe, Dobby. Should you be captured by Death Eaters they might try to torture you for information. You can use this vow to… escape. To end the situation on your terms. Do you understand?”
“Very well. Could you make the same exact vow as Winky? No extra stuff.”
“Dobby swear on his magic to keep Master Draco and Master Harry’s secrets.”
“Very good.” Harry propped his hand up on his chin. “I would love some poached eggs and toast.” He watched Dobby dart away then turned to his godfather. “I realize Kreacher already has such a vow due to his entailment to the House of Black.”
Sirius nodded. “But that would include Bellatrix because even after I disowned her, his blood bond insures he’ll obey her orders.”
Harry nodded and cleared his throat. “Kreacher.”
Kreacher ambled over to the table, haggard and foul tempered. “Yes, Master Harry?”
“I’d like to talk to you about your place in the House of Black.”
Kreacher glared. “Not want to be free.”
“Oh, I’m tempted,” Harry admitted. “Though you’d probably dart off and join Bellatrix for ever how long it took Voldemort to kill you.” He inclined his head.”You know that, right? You know that the Dark Lord does not value creatures such as you.”
Harry nodded. “Have you been in contact with Bellatrix since the night of the Department of Mysteries incident, Kreacher?”
“I listen for her—she not call,” Kreacher admitted. He averted his gaze. “I listen for Master Sirius, too, when he escaped bad place. He not call either. No one calls Kreacher.”
Harry glanced at his godfather and was amused to find the older man genuinely shocked. “Well, I’m sure if Sirius had known you were listening he would have called. His diet wasn’t the best when he was on the run.”
Kreacher scoffed. “Master Sirius never eat well. Eat junk.”
“You know that your Mistress was insane before she died correct?”
Kreacher frowned but nodded. “Mistress quite mad but I takes care of her to very end.”
Harry figured that the locket had driven Walburga Black batshit insane but that wasn’t something he could say aloud. “That was very loyal of you.”
Kreacher nodded. “Kreacher serve House of Black.”
“Yes, and for you that means all the members of the House of Black.”
Kreacher nodded again. “Yes, Master Harry.”
“Very well. I know Sirius has ordered you not to leave the house but I do not believe that is enough to protect you since you took an order to leave the kitchen for one to leave the house.”
“You visited Narcissa and Bellatrix that night, correct?”
Kreacher nodded and looked down. “Not tells secret things.”
“No, but even non-secrets when it comes to the Order could be dangerous for you to reveal or to even admit you know. I really think it would best if we devised some way to protect you from that.”
“Protect me?” Kreacher asked.
“Of course, Kreacher, your protection is very important to me as long as you behave.”
“You’ll not Riverdance on my ashes then?”
“Only if you piss me off,” Harry allowed. “Respect is mutual. Now, say that someone contacted the house—someone like Bellatrix. If she were to send you a letter, would you receive it?”
“Yes, Master Harry.”
“And she could give you instructions—orders that might lead you to betraying Lord Black.” Harry paused when Kreacher stared at him horror. “Such an action would kill you, would it not? It wouldn’t have before Sirius claimed his ring but it would now.”
“Yes, Master Harry.”
“You lied to me, Kreacher, the night I went to the Department of Mysteries.”
“Yes, Master Harry.”
“You did that to please Bellatrix and Narcissa.”
“Mistress Cissy not have choice. Evil wizard make her do bad things,” Kreacher protested.
“Yes, we know,” Harry said as he curled his hand over the top of Draco’s. “We know very well what Mistress Cissy was forced to do but that’s the past now and she’s safe here.”
Kreacher nodded. “Yes.”
“But she wouldn’t be safe if Bellatrix were to find some way to use you against the House of Black.”
“Kreacher make vow then?”
“I think to keep you safe and to protect Mistress Cissy that you should.” Harry wondered if it was really all that hot in hell. Manipulating a house elf like this was the most base thing he’d done in recent memory.
“What Kreacher vow then?”
“Let’s see—well, we must be careful because failing to follow orders from Bellatrix could hurt you since your magic tells you she’s still a member of the House of Black. But, Sirius could nullify any orders that she gives you because he’s Lord. So, you should vow to never reveal the secrets of the Lord Black or the Order of the Phoenix and to report to him any time Bellatrix contacts you or attempts to give you an order. Then he can protect you from her bad orders.”
“What about yous secrets?” Kreacher asked.
“Well, if you tell my secrets—Riverdancing is back on my agenda,” Harry said as seriously as possible. “And that’s not even to say what I might do to your mother’s head before I could calm down.”
“Yous a mean wizard,” Kreacher muttered. “Kreacher promise on his magic to keep the secrets of Lord Black, the Order of Phoenix, Master Harry Potter, and Master Draco Malfoy.”
“And Bellatrix?” Harry prodded.
“Master Sirius must make it an order,” Kreacher admitted begrudgingly.
Harry said nothing while Sirius gave Kreacher a very thorough order regarding his crazy cousin. When they were finished he cleared his throat. “Now, I’ve allowed myself a bit to think about your punishment for lying to me.”
Kreacher stared at him. “And?”
“I hate to do this to you, Kreacher, but you’ve really left me no choice.” Harry shook his head. “It’s such a shame, really, to stain the legacy of your service to the House of Black.” He pulled a small bag out of his trouser pocket and emptied five galleons on the table in front of him.
Kreacher glared openly at the money. “I not taking it.”
“Oh you are,” Harry assured. He put the galleons back on the pouch and offered it. “Kreacher, you are to take these wages and buy something with them from Winky’s catalogue.”
Kreacher stared at the pouch in horror and tears welled up in his eyes. “You mean wizard!” He took the little bag and stomped back to the stove. When he got there, Winky patted him consolingly on the back while he sniffled in horror.
“Oh, stop snivelling you little monster before I send you on vacation to my Muggle Aunt’s house.”
“Potter, that is beyond the pale,” Draco protested with a little laugh.
Harry rolled his eyes but reached out and took the moleskin bag in front of Moody. “Kreacher, Dobby, Winky. Come here please.” All three elves eased over to Harry’s side. Winky probably feared getting money, too. Dobby on the other hand saw money as the path to socks and he loved socks. “I’m going to show you a secret. This is the most secret thing you may ever see. Everything you see and hear in this room will be secret.” He shared a glance with Draco and his partner drew his wand in prepartion for what might happen.
He spilled the ring out on the table and it hit the wood with a dull thud. The house elves leaned in close and only Kreacher made a sound—one of recognition. Harry let that go for the moment.
“It feel bad,” Winky whispered.
“It is bad,” Harry agreed. “It is the most evil magic you’ll ever feel. Have you ever felt it before, Winky?”
Winky shook her head. She reached out but Harry grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her hand away from the ring. She nodded and he released her.
“What about you, Dobby?”
Dobby inclined his head and nodded. “Bad Master’s book felt this way.”
Harry shared a look with Dumbledore and was pleased to see the calculating look on the older wizard’s face. He was really glad he didn’t have to explain what he was doing. “Did you ever feel this bad feeling from anything else in the Malfoy Manor?”
Dobby paused and nodded reluctantly. “Big snake. Nagini.”
“Voldemort’s pet?” Harry asked. “You saw her at Malfoy Manor?”
“I be sneaking in to Manor see my mum. Dark Lord bring her with him—feed Nibby to her. Nibby be old—Bad Old Master say she be useless might as well be snake food.”
“Fuck,” Draco muttered under his breath and closed his eyes briefly. Harry could relate. The very idea of Nagini eating a house elf made his own stomach rebel.
“What about you Kreacher?”
Kreacher shook his head. “Kreacher can’t say.”
“Why?” Harry asked and put a hand on Sirius’ arm when he started to intervene. “Did someone order you not to?”
“Master Regulus’ final orders,” Kreacher whispered.
“I see,” Harry murmured. “Did you do all that Master Regulus asked of you?”
“Kreacher fail,” the old elf admitted. “But I try. I keep trying.”
“Maybe we could help you with your final task,” Draco offered. “Harry and I have special powers, Kreacher.”
“Archmagus,” Kreacher agreed. He reviewed them both shrewd eyes then popped away without another word. He returned before anyone had the chance to say anything and very carefully laid the locket of Salazar Slytherin on the table beside the ring.
Harry was honestly flabbergasted. He’d assumed he would have to work with Kreacher for weeks but maybe he’d underestimated the toll the locket had taken on the elf and what Kreacher might be willing to expose himself in order to fulfill Regulus Black’s final orders.
“What are they?” Sirius demanded in a low tone.
“Do you know what a horcrux is?” Harry asked.
“Yes, of course, I grew up in a dark family…” Sirius paled and pushed his chair back from the table. “Dumbledore! Your brought a goddamned horcrux into my house?”
“He brought it to me,” Harry said. “I’ve already destroyed one. It stands to reason that I can destroy the others without any sort of magical backlash.”
Sirius took in a breath then another. “I… fuck me. How many did he make?”
“Dobby confirmed our suspicions about Nagini,” Dumbledore said neutrally. “There was the diary. The ring and the locket are in front of Harry now. We believe that he intentionally made two others— one using Ravenclaw’s diadem. Harry has had dreams about a woman in a crown. If it isn’t the diadem itself—it might be another artifact of Rowena Ravenclaw. The other is currently a mystery but I am researching the matter. We believe he intended on making seven and was intending on making one with Harry’s murder back in 1981.”
“But he failed,” Sirius said softly. “He failed.”
Harry found that he couldn’t lie about it. He reached out and grabbed his godfather’s hand to keep the older wizard in place. “How much did my mother love me, Sirius?”
Sirius frowned and swallowed hard. “More… more than anything else. Your parents were utterly devoted to you, put you above themselves and each other. They lived for you. They died for you. Lily… her love filled the room up it was so intense.”
“And she protects me to this day,” Harry murmured. “Her magic and love shielded me that night and now, Sirius, now it keeps the horcrux I’ve carried since that night at bay.”
Sirius reached out and touched Harry’s face gently and tears streamed unbidden down his face. “Oh, Harry, no.”
“It’s how we’re connected—Riddle and I.”
Sirius pulled Harry from his chair as he stood and held onto him tight. “Dumbledore, you sorry bastard! Why haven’t you removed this thing from him?”
“We are unsure if it can be removed without killing him,” Dumbledore admitted. “I’ve discussed it at length with Alastor and he agrees with me that we require the help of the Goblins. At this point, however, we aren’t sure they can be trusted with such a secret when it comes to Harry. Lily’s magic keeps it relatively contained and as anyone can see, Harry is not tainted by what he’s been forced to carry nearly all of his life. It would be… very dangerous for anyone at the Ministry to find out about the horcruxes.”
“Riddle doesn’t know,” Sirius said as he stepped back and cupped Harry’s face. “He would’ve never tried to kill you if he’d known what you carry.”
“It’s in my scar,” Harry murmured. “And, no, he doesn’t know. If he knew he would probably order Bellatrix to be my body guard.” He gave Sirius a small smile and stepped back. He held out his hand and pulled gently with his magic. The sword of Godric Gryffindor slapped against his palm with a heavy thud. “I used a basilisk fang to kill the diary but upon reflection it was probably the venom that did the thing in and not the stabbing part.”
“Agreed,” Alastor Moody said. “What’s with the sword lad?”
“This is the sword I used to kill that basilisk. It’s imbued with the venom of the creature and since it is Goblin made—it will carry the venom of the basilisk for as long as it physically exists. I’m probably the only person on this planet that could touch the blade of this sword and survive it.”
“It is a better weapon for it,” Moody muttered and just gave Albus a grin when the elderly wizard made a sound of protest. He focused on Draco who was staring at the ring and locket silently. “What about you, Malfoy, how do you feel about destroying the Dark Lord’s horcruxes?”
“I’m relieved that we’ve managed to locate two so quickly,” Draco said evenly. “I’m worried about Harry’s part in this. From what I’ve gathered from his recollections of the first horcrux—it was created when Riddle was still at Hogwarts. These two are different, created when he was older and already corrupted by living with only half his soul. He’s barely recovered from what Ginny Weasley did to him. Your timing frankly sucks.”
“I didn’t want to risk that Voldemort might move the ring,” Dumbledore said quietly. “Once we realized it was there, we had to take it. He might have had protections in place to warn him when the wards were broken. I don’t know for certain. The risk of not retrieving it was too great.”
“And it tempts you beyond reason even now,” Harry said gently. “The ring…”
“I believe the stone is the Resurrection Stone, yes.” Dumbledore looked away from the hall. “The ring would’ve likely killed me if I had not taken Moody with me. There was a flesh wasting curse attached to it and I tried to pick it up without even checking for curses.”
“The Resurrection Stone is a fairy tale,” Draco openly scoffed. “The Deathly Hallows? Come now, Headmaster, you don’t believe in that do you?”
Dumbledore seemed to consider his words carefully then carefully withdrew his wand and placed it on the table in front of him, “The Elder Wand, Lord Malfoy.”
Harry inclined his head towards the ring, “The Resurrection Stone.” He turned to Dobby. “Dobby, retrieve my cloak from my trunk, please.”
Dobby popped away and returned seconds later with an armful of shining silver material. Harry took it and folded it carefully before placing it on the table. “The Cloak of Invisibility.”
This wasn’t new information to Draco—he’d been in the presence of the three Hallows more times than could be counted but he played the part required of him and looked genuinely shocked. Harry had eventually retrieved both the Elder Wand and the Resurrection Stone. All three Hallows had been kept in a high security vault in their cottage in Wales.
“The Master of Death is a responsibility fit for no wizard,” Harry murmured. “The Elder Wand is at home in your hand, Headmaster, and it should stay there until you pass. Should it be taken from you in conquest, I vow on my magic to seek the person who bested you and take the wand from them.”
Dumbledore nodded and put his wand away. “The cloak is a family heirloom of the Potter’s and should remain with you.”
“Once the horcrux is destroyed—the stone would be too tempting for us both,” Harry said bluntly. “We’ve both lost too much to hold on to such an artifact.” Though Harry had only used it once in the future, he had been tempted by it every day. He didn’t want to endure that temptation day in and day out in the years ahead of him.
“Agreed,” Dumbledore murmured hoarsely.
“Legends say to hold a spirit in life with the stone is to torture that spirit,” Draco said quietly. “I would not wish that on anyone I loved. I would not wish it on my father and there was no love to be had between us.”
“Moody, will you take the stone to the Ministry and toss it through the Veil?” Sirius asked. “Return to Death what is his?”
Moody cleared his throat, pale and obviously horrified to be in the presence of the Deathly Hallows. “Of course.”
Harry picked up his father’s cloak. “Dobby, please return this to my trunk.” Dobby popped away without a sound.
“Your house elf is more powerful,” Moody said out of the blue. “He wasn’t able to travel silently earlier in the year.”
Harry nodded. “He’d attached his bond to my core without my knowledge, Moody. I didn’t even know I had it but when I realized it—I shored up the connection to make the bond as healthy as possible. I’ve noticed a difference in the way his magic responds to mine as well. I don’t consider it a problem.”
“No, but it’s noteworthy,” Moody said begrudgingly. “It says a great deal about the amount of ambient magic you’re throwing off. Don’t be surprised if you find that other unbonded house elves seek you or Malfoy out.”
It had been a problem in the future, that was true. Between them they’d bonded with fifty-two elves by the time they were thirty. Most of them they’d sent out to do charity work which had been excellent press for them, though hardly why Harry did it. Winky had been the only one they’d kept in their home permanently.
“The sun will be up soon,” Harry finally said. “We should adjourn to the ritual room and take care of this before the rest of house hold wakes up.”
“Should I wake Severus?” Sirius asked.
“No.” Dumbledore shook his head. “For his own safety, I have not informed him of my research on the horcruxes. If or when Tom asks him about it—I want Severus to be able to say he had no idea what I was doing and had never heard me or anyone else in the Order mention the word horcrux.”
They left the basement kitchen after Harry levitated both horcruxes back into the pouch and walked through a illusionary wall that actually lead to the ritual and potions lab. The dueling room was actually two levels high on the other side of the kitchen, making a second basement in the house that very few people knew about or had access to. Sirius had spent the last year making the space for training purposes as many of the Order had seen very little if any combat themselves.
He regularly put anyone available through the wringer in the dueling room and was responsible for Tonks rising so quickly in the auror ranks. He’d turned his cousin into focused and vicious fighter in the time since they’d met. The original dueling room had been essentially destroyed during a training session so he’d had to create a more sturdy space for the activity.
Harry levitated a small pedestal from one of the corners and placed it in the center of the room. “Headmaster, if you would cast a containment ward around me?”
“Harry.” Draco frowned. “Are you sure?”
“Very. Without a spell, once I release the horcrux it will dissipate rather than seek a host. It isn’t an active spirit like what Quirrell had in him.”
Draco nodded and stepped back so that Dumbledore could cast the ward. He drew both wands but Harry made himself look away from his lover—he didn’t need the distraction. He didn’t expect the ring to fight but that couldn’t be said for the locket. He coaxed the ring out of the bag wandlessly and placed it in the center of the pedestal.
Dumbledore had never explained how he’d destroyed this particular horcrux but Harry had to think the elderly wizard had probably used the sword as well—which explained why he’d sent the sword to Harry through Snape. Why there had been a duplicate made and why Voldemort was so intent on keeping that sword safe. Bellatrix had tortured Hermione over the very idea that they might have gotten the sword out of her vault. Her rabid concern had eventually led them to the cup.
He lifted the sword and cut the ring in half with one blow. The gold sizzled and melted as it came into contact with the blade. The stone… screamed but remained whole as the venom from the blade sank into it. Black smoke poured out of it and swirled in a maelstrom of magic. The screaming intensified briefly then an eerie silence followed the snap of magic that evaporated the smoke.
“Merlin,” Harry muttered. The locket had been difficult to destroy, Ron had hesitated and it had tried to save itself by turning Ron against Harry. It had eventually failed but he had to wonder, even now, if the locket’s influence hadn’t finished off their friendship that day. He’d never seen what happened with the cup and the diadem had been destroyed by fiendfyre. He was so distracted that he reached out for the stone.
“No!” Draco snapped. “Back away from the stone, Harry!”
Harry jerked his hand back, startled that he’d been so foolish as to reach for it. There was no telling who would appear and what they might say. The last thing they needed was to be exposed in front of Dumbledore. The man’s sense of social responsibility might extend to doing something desperate to preserve the timeline no matter how reasonable their goals were.
He took a deep breath and nodded. “Sorry, it was a little overwhelming. The diary was nothing like that.” Harry made a show of using his holly wand to levitate the stone and the remains of the ring into the pouch before removing the locket and letting it drop onto the pedestal.
He picked up the sword and pretended to study the locket. “This belonged to Salazar Slytherin, correct?”
“It is our assumption. I’ve found very few drawings of the locket and they differ due to time and artist bias,” Albus said.
Harry nodded and after some consideration tried to break the locket open with the sword. Magic crackled the moment the two metals met but the locket remained—unmarked and intact after he lifted the sword. He frowned and stepped back to pretend to consider the matter.
“I think I have to open it first,” Harry said as he shared a look with Draco before focusing on Sirius. “We should ask Kreacher what he did to try to destroy it.”
“I don’t want you to open it,” Draco admitted roughly. He turned to Dumbledore. “Would fiendfyre destroy a horcrux?”
Albus took a deep breath. “Yes, but very few wizards can control such a dark curse, Lord Malfoy.”
“Fiendfyre is only considered dark when it is used with the intent to harm another human being. Like most curses it is fueled by the emotions of the caster. I am confident that I can control it and end it when the task is finished.”
“There is no counter charm for fiendfyre,” Moody protested.
“I’ve been conjuring fire since I was a child and I’ve never lost control or failed to reign in a magical fire that I instigated,” Draco admitted. “My father found my talent with fire entertaining. It never crossed his mind that it was merely the first of the gifts I would receive as an elemental. His arrogance never allowed him the clarity of thought to realize that he’d managed to father an archmagus. In many ways, I’m lucky in that regard. The damage he would’ve done to me as a child if he’d known could’ve been so much worse. I don’t think I gave up on him until I was five or six. He could’ve coaxed loyalty oaths out of me before then to disastrous results. It happens in dark families more than anyone would like to admit as they’d rather have their children dead than see them betray the family.”
Sirius nodded his agreement. “My parents didn’t demand oaths after the first year of Hogwarts as our family oaths often involved swearing loyalty to the House of Slytherin. They didn’t want to risk Regulus or I dropping dead if we were sorted in Ravenclaw which was acceptable but embarrassing by their standard.”
Draco had cast fiendfyre more than once in the future as it created a very potent ashwinder. The eggs of such a strong ashwinder were required for some of the more sophisticated potions they’d brought with them from the future—including the regeneration elixir that mixed with Skele-Gro to replace amputated limbs. Talented Potions Masters prided themselves on creating their own ashwinders and Draco had been at thirty an internationally known Potions Master—an acknowledgement he’d sought to honor his fallen godfather.
“Sir, if you would allow Draco to enter the ward?” Harry asked and turned to Sirius. “The easiest way for him to extinguish a magical fire is to push all of the energy into an ashwinder. Sirius, can you go to the potions lab and retrieve a container for the eggs? There is no need to miss an opportunity considering the quality of the magical fire we’re going to be dealing with.”
A few minutes passed and they were all in place. Dumbledore had cast several anti-fire charms all over the stone walls of the ritual room in case the fire escaped the ward. They could tell he was nervous but it was good. Harry figured that Albus could use a lesson in what it meant to be an elemental archmagus.
They closed the door to the ritual room to protect the rest of the house and Dumbledore had forced portkeys on all four of them—though Moody had insisted on charming his own. The room would contain the fire if Draco lost control of it but Harry wasn’t worried about that.
They exchanged the tall pedestal for a smaller one then knelt across from each other. Draco pulled both wands and Harry settled into his core without much effort to better connect himself with the magic he would be feeding his partner. Once the connection was solid, he opened his eyes and Draco began.
Fiendfyre could be horrifying but when Draco conjured it—it was beguiling and as seductive as the wizard controlling it. The fire took on the shape of Draco’s animagus form—something they hadn’t risked doing with their chaotic magic pool. Harry wasn’t sure what would happen if either of them tried it at this point and it wasn’t worth the risk considering how much magic he had at his disposal at any given time.
Draco directed the fire towards the locket and the pedestal started to tremble. The chain of the locket rattled and the locket burst open as soon as the fire touched it. The horcrux surged forward briefly, screaming his name then the locket started to melt into the pedestal. It writhed and screamed at him for several seconds then it dissipated in a loud rush of magic. The silence that followed was so overwhelming that no one moved for nearly a minute. Draco kept his attention firmly on the fire and when it was time, Harry stood and shifted out of the way.
The ashwinder burst out of the fire, consumed what was left and immediately sought a dark corner in the ritual room. Malfoy rolled to his feet and followed it. He used his magic to coax the fire serpent to lay its eggs—a process that could take at least an hour without intervention. Fortunately, Draco was able to expedite the process and had the eggs frozen in just a few minutes. Harry retrieved the container after Dumbledore lowered the ward and helped his partner store them.
* * * *
Moody took a long draw from his flask and stared pointedly at the floor in front of him. Sirius Black and Dumbledore were on the opposite side of the private office had at Headquarters. “The damage Tom Riddle could’ve done to our world if he’d managed to corrupt Draco Malfoy cannot be measured.”
“No,” Moody shook his head. “It needs… to be said. I’ve never seen power like what they have individually or one can assume together. Malfoy treated fiendfyre like a pet. I’ve never seen anyone control it long enough to get a bloody ashwinder out of it! But what astounds me more is that they both willingly gave up the potential to be the Master of Death. Though I have to say the vow Potter insisted I take was rather surprising.”
Sirius snorted. He hadn’t been surprised at all. “Harry doesn’t trust easily, Moody. Maybe he never will but I can’t say I was surprised that he made you vow on your life to send the stone through the Veil before you left this house with it.” He inclined his head. “How did that go?”
“Even after six children broke into the place they are still startlingly arrogant about how secure it is,” Moody muttered. “I had no problems getting to the Veil or tossing the bag through. I can see why Potter didn’t want to keep it though, I was tempted… I was very tempted to hold it once so I could see my boys and my wife again. The damn thing seems to make you want to hold it. A quality I’m sure that Riddle found interesting. I can’t believe he didn’t realize what he had. He would’ve never used a Hallow to create a horcrux if he’d known about it.”
“No, I agree,” Dumbledore murmured. “He was utterly in the dark about the origins of his own family ring which isn’t a surprise since he grew up in an orphanage and what little contact he had with his mother’s family was hostile to say the least. They were not… kind people. Had he been raised in that home he would’ve been twice as corrupted as he currently is today—without making a horcrux. Of that I had no doubts.”
“Yet, growing up in a Muggle orphanage certainly did him no favors,” Sirius muttered.
“Yes, but the laws regarding such things are very specific,” Dumbledore murmured. “It is interesting, however, that Tom would grow up to espouse the same nonsense that insured his miserable childhood. Pure-blood politics have long been responsible for the more ridiculous laws concerning Half-bloods and Muggle-borns. Tom fashioned himself a Half-blood long before he had any clue of his ancestry and had managed to falsify records by his seventh year proclaiming himself to be a Pure-blood, abandoned and lost in the Muggle world after his real parents were murdered.”
“Many weak minded fools bought that nonsense,” Sirius said. “My parents certainly did. Bellatrix—well, she fell in love with Tom Riddle and would’ve certainly married him if the choice had been hers but he had no love of anyone and her parents had arranged her marriage shortly before she learned to walk. I can’t say a broken heart drove her mad but I do believe it contributed to her fanaticism after she took the Dark Mark.”
* * * *
Sirius hadn’t liked it when Harry had told him that they’d planned to sneak out of Grimmauld Place and visit Potter’s Keep but the man couldn’t deny him either. Only the godfathers and elves were allowed on the family floor so they were safe from discovery. Severus had been gone for the day when they’d emerged from the ritual room so they hadn’t even gotten the chance to present him with the ashwinder eggs.
The portkey deposited them in front of a pair of gates not unlike what Harry was used to seeing at Malfoy Manor. Winky and Dobby appeared next to them almost immediately, using their bond to travel to the previously unknown place. The gates seemed to be a break in a tall stone wall that guarded nothing. He figured the house was under a charm of some sort so wasn’t surprised when the gate shifted and groaned as magic activated around them. The animated lion’s head on the gate lock roared at him in defiance.
He used one of his wands to cut the palm of his wand hand and smeared blood over the top of the lion’s head. Magic rushed around him with a swoosh and when it settled the gates that had looked ancient and near falling apart were pristine—shining like new. The lion purred at him and the gates swung open as a petite version of Hogwarts appeared before them. Harry stared. Draco snorted.
“What?” Harry asked with a laugh in his partner’s direction.
“It’s a bloody castle!” Draco shook his head. “What do you think? Maybe a third the size of Hogwarts?”
“Just about,” Harry agreed. He healed the small wound on his palm, cast a cleaning charm and offered it to Draco. “Let’s take a look around.”
Dobby and Winky dashed ahead of them so by the time they reached the stone steps leading to the large door—the door was open and elf magic was high in the air as they activated long dormant dusting charms. For all that the outside looked like a castle—the inside wasn’t much different from Malfoy Manor. The first floor had a formal dining room, a salon, and what amounted to a small public library that seemed to be stocked with a variety of books one might find in the non-restricted section of Hogwarts. Harry figured there was another more extensive library in a private area.
They wandered up the main staircase and encountered a hall that lead to several elegantly appointed offices and the private library which appeared three times bigger than the one at Hogwarts. The room had been magically expanded upward so the library itself was nearly three floors tall. The third floor had six guest rooms—each furnished with covered heavy wood furniture. The Potter elves had done a great job of closing the house as they’d yet to encounter any of the horribleness the Order had found in Grimmauld Place after so many years of being unoccupied.
The fourth floor was obviously family quarters because Harry could see it and Draco could not. Harry prodded the ward carefully with his magic and once realizing it was more illusionary than punitive, he pulled his partner through it. “I’ll have to do the adjustments at the ward stone.”
Draco nodded just as several portraits started to speak.
“Oh, he’s finally here!” A portrait of a little girl bounced in front of them—her head capped with spring black curls. Blue eyes sparkled brightly with good cheer and excitement.
“Hello,” Harry said gently. “Who might you be?”
“I’m Agatha Marie Potter,” the little girl said as she knelt down in the spring grass of the painting she was occupying at the moment. Considering her formal attire, Harry didn’t think it was her ‘home’ portrait. “I’m your Great Aunt. My brother Harold was your grandfather.” She pointed down the hall. “Come with me and I’ll show you his portrait. He’s sleeping. James never came to wake him up.”
“Oh.” Harry’s fingers tightened against Draco’s as the little girl in the pretty dress darted through a landscape and down the hall. They turned down another hall and Harry found himself surrounded by portraits—many of them talking at the same time. He held up a hand and they all grew quiet. “Hello, all.” Several of the wizards offered bows and said his title respectfully.
“If you’re after following Agatha—you’ll want to go into the social room where the new portraits are, Lord Potter. Those of us out in the hall are quite old. I myself lived in the fourteen hundreds.”
“Right, thank you.”
Draco exhaled sharply. “I haven’t seen this many living portraits in the same place ever—well, except for Hogwarts.”
Harry nodded his agreement. A living portrait was expensive and difficult magical endeavor that required a dedication to the project that most magicals just couldn’t commit to. It required monthly transference rituals as the portrait couldn’t be updated without the living occupant touching the absorption crystal that powered it. Since such crystals were illegal to sell and only heirlooms could be owned… it was difficult for the average magical person to create such a thing.
The social room turned out to be an informal salon with a pool table, a fairly old television, and a jukebox from the 1950s. Portraits were grouped around the room with the main wall apparently dedicated to the most recent generations as his grandfather was sleeping and so were his parents. A woman of some undetermined older age was staring at them pointedly with dark eyes.
“I’m Elizabeth Potter,” she raised one black eyebrow. “And you are?”
“Harry James,” Harry murmured. “And this is my partner, Lord Draco Malfoy.”
Elizabeth Potter nodded. “I haven’t seen you since you were six months old. Has it been that long?”
“I’ll be sixteen soon,” Harry said carefully. “My grandfather died just five months after you—killed at Potter Manor by Death Eaters.”
Elizabeth’s gaze went to the still portrait of her husband. “I would be pleased young man, if you’d wake my husband. I’ve waited a long time for this it seems.”
Harry reached out with trembling fingers and brushed them over the Potter seal stamped in gold on the bottom center of the portrait. He pushed his magic into the seal and Harold Potter woke with a startled humph. Harry grinned at the older man and wasn’t surprised when he got a smirk in return.
“Well, I’d know that face anywhere,” Harold boasted. “How’s my favorite grandson?”
“I’m your only grandson.”
“Pish.” Harold waved it off.
“And actually, I’m furious. I’m so furious I could probably level this place with the temper tantrum I feel I deserve to have.”
Harold inclined his head. “Anything to do with the fact that I’ve obviously been dead most of your life?”
“My parents survived you by six months,” Harry said and averted his gaze when both grandparents turned to stare at the portrait of Lily and James. They looked terribly young in the portrait—perhaps too young to even be parents.
“We had that painted the week after the prophecy was revealed,” Harold said quietly. “James… was adamant about creating it but your mother, being Muggle-born, found the entire process rather invasive and time consuming. She also hated that you were too young for the process—didn’t want to spend years in a painting even as just a bit of portrait magic without her baby. Our paintings were updated that last time together—we closed Potter Keep and they went to Godric’s Hollow while I went to Potter Manor. They will be so pleased to see you, Harry.”
Harry blinked back years and shook his head. He released Draco’s hand and walked away from the portrait of his parents as tears streamed down his face. His anger was fast being replaced with grief and he had no outlet for it. None. That his own actions had kept this from him in the future was just about the limit. He wanted to blame the Goblins—wanted to go back to the bank and level the fucking place and damn the consequences. But that attitude was a prime example of what he’d done wrong the first time.
He dropped down in a large bay window and when Draco joined him, he cast a privacy charm to protect their conversation from the portraits. He hadn’t had time to review the charm work associated with them and he didn’t want them telling anyone what he had to say to Draco. Not that they were even paying attention. Most of the portraits in the room were napping and his grandparents were cuddling. It was kind of sweet in a weird way.
“I let myself be led,” Harry murmured. “All through the horcrux hunt—I was distracted by Ron’s fickle friendship and impatience but more importantly I let Hermione make the decisions more often than not. She’s brilliant and I can’t say that I would have survived that first time around without her. I have to wonder if breaking into the bank was the only option. I didn’t even let myself consider another plan and well, neither did she. She’d decided it was the best course of action and off we went. I cast an Unforgiveable that night—not the first and not the last, unfortunately. But by then Riddle had damaged me so much already through our connection that I was darker than I ever wanted to admit to.”
“The grey wizard offers the magical world balance,” Draco murmured as he brushed his thumbs over Harry’s damp cheeks.
“I was so angry after the war—angry and tired. You can’t imagine how furious I was when I discovered that I had a title and that the ministry was trying to claim my inheritance because I hadn’t known to. Dumbledore kept me in the dark—ignorant and untrained because it didn’t matter. I was meant to die. I guess he didn’t want to waste his time on anything that might give me a chance.” Harry rubbed his face with both hands. “Sometimes, I wonder if he’d have tried to kill me himself if he’d survived the war and I didn’t attempt to sacrifice myself.”
Draco made a shocked sound and shifted so he could recline in the window seat with him. He gathered Harry close and pressed his lips to the top of his head. “You don’t have to wake them up, Harry.”
Harry lifted his head. “What?”
“Your parents—you don’t have to do it today. We can come back another day or never again.”
“This is my home… a home I should’ve gotten to grow up in,” Harry murmured.
“Granted and it’s a rather grand place. I like it and we haven’t even explored the grounds yet but you don’t have to face all of these demons today.”
“I can’t leave them sleeping,” Harry murmured. “They’ve slept so long already.”
“They won’t know the difference,” Draco said bluntly. “They aren’t… they aren’t the same as real people. Yes, they contain a very vivid personality and the memories of their person they’ve been imbued with but in the end they are just a painting. They are but bits of paint swirled onto a canvas and given the semblance of life where there once was. They are meant to offer us wisdom and comfort, Harry, but they can’t take the place of people. If there is no comfort for you to find in waking their portrait on this day… then we simply wait until the day comes when it will be.”
“I love you,” Harry whispered fiercely. “I love you so much, Draco. Can we go back to Grimmauld Place?”
“Yes, absolutely.” Draco shifted off the bay window and offered his hand. “We’ll let Dobby and Winky formulate a plan to get this place opened up and put out the word that it needs to be staffed. The grounds will need to be tended and I think I saw a greenhouse.”
Harry nodded his agreement. “Yeah, okay. That sounds perfect.”
He walked to stand in front of the portrait of Lily and James. He wasn’t sure he could listen to them to talk about their lives before him and maybe even the dreams they’d had for him. What he did know was that the portrait couldn’t have any contact with Sirius at the moment. Harry had told too many lies and spread the truth entirely too thin in so many ways to protect himself and Draco that he couldn’t… it just wasn’t feasible to bring the portrait back to Grimmauld or to allow them a copy for Sirius either. His grandparents were looking on expectantly and he closed his eyes. Despite what Draco said, he couldn’t stand the idea of disappointing them.
He reached out and brushed his magic over the seal and sighed when Draco exhaled sharply from the doorway of the room. “I’ve always taken the most painful path.”
“Agreed,” Draco said bluntly. “I’ll go chat with Dobby and Winky about the estate.”
Harry summoned a chair and sat down heavily as the two people in the painting shifted and woke. He leaned forward briefly and cleared his throat. “I have very few memories of you at all and the most prominent is the night Voldemort murdered you both and tried to kill me when I was eighteen months old.” His mother gasped. “I have led a hard life full of more darkness and pain and sacrifice than I can even put into words. Due to circumstances that I cannot hope to explain in what time I have left here today, your portrait must remain here—hidden from the world. I know many would wish to speak with you given the chance.” He rubbed his face with his hand. “You were betrayed by Peter Pettigrew but I figure you know that.” They both nodded. “But you didn’t tell Dumbledore the truth about who was the Secret Keeper and because of that Sirius spent twelve years in Azkaban. I had to blackmail the Minister of Magic to finally free him from that.”
“Why can’t anyone know about the painting?” James asked.
“I have secrets,” Harry said simply. “Secrets that keep me and my magical partner safe. I can’t afford for you to say the wrong thing to the wrong person. I’ve been forced through circumstances to lie about what you knew about my gifts before you died and when I found out about them.”
“You’ve opened the trunk in your vault then?” James asked. “It’s too soon.”
“It wasn’t when I opened it,” Harry said.
He glossed over the war, the academy and finding his partner. The career they’d had at the DMLE hadn’t been all glory and parties so he went spare on the details. Didn’t speak of the work they’d done for the IWC as he didn’t figure his parents needed to know he’d done more than one turn as a Hit Wizard. Then he spoke of Neville Longbottom and how they tried to help him as quietly as possible. The results being both of them thrown back in time.
“You’re right, of course,” James murmured. “We could unravel your story in any number of ways just be speaking of our past or you in a casual way. It’s a very dangerous game you’re playing, Harry. I told Sirius practically everything. You’re very fortunate that your mother and I decided to tell no one our suspicions regarding your magical power.”
“Granted, even Dumbledore might have been tempted to toss a couple of loyalty curses my way,” Harry said dryly.
“Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble,” Draco murmured from the doorway. “For potions are much more reliable and cause a wizard less trouble.”
“Well, that’s a Malfoy if I ever saw one,” James said dryly. “Considering your age—you must be Draco. I saw you several times as a baby.”
Draco nodded and came fully into the room. “Lord and Lady Potter, it’s a pleasure to speak with you both.”
“I often wondered who would be his partner,” Lily murmured. “We didn’t dare ask the parents of children in his peer group though he did respond very positively to you.”
Draco blinked in surprise. “Pardon me?”
“At a ministry event when you were just a year old, you were both in the child care room with a mediwitch,” Lily explained. “The two of you played together the whole night and fell asleep cuddled together. Harry threw such a fit when I took him away from you so we could go home.” She inclined her head as she thought about it. “In fact, for days afterward he was sullen and inconsolable.”
“He often makes me like that,” Harry confided and grinned when Draco glared at him. “My apologies, Dragon, you are the light of my life and the magic on which my existence is founded.”
“It’s too late, Potter, if we had a dog you’d be sleeping in its house.” Draco perched on the arm of the chair.
Harry caught Draco’s hand and threaded their fingers together. “We don’t know when we’ll be able to visit again but we’re going to send some house elves here to take care of the property in our absence.”
“Is Sirius okay?”
“He will be,” Harry murmured. “It’s going to take a while for him to regain what Azkaban took from him but we’ll both there to make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid.”
* * * *
Draco pulled his sleeping partner closer and rocked him gently. He deeply regretted the trip to Potter’s Keep. Harry wasn’t really dreaming but his distress and grief had followed him into sleep. What most people would never understand is that Harry’s mind was never at rest. His connection with wild magic prodded at him and his thoughts every minute of every day. As an adult, Harry had sometimes slept as little four or five hours a night because his magic would wake him.
“Easy, love,” Draco whispered.
He used their bond to pull gently at Harry’s magic, absorbing as much of the power flowing off his partner and pushing it into their magic well. Something that Harry did with barely a thought when he was awake but had barely managed to control in his sleep at thirty. His sixteen year old body had no hope at this point of channeling all of the magic had at his disposal.
A low rumble rolled through the room and Draco figured both of their godfathers heard it. He wasn’t entirely certain when Severus had started sharing Black’s bed and he certainly wasn’t going to ask. They were both glowing—gold and brighter than ever before. The door opened and Draco sighed as both men entered.
“Is something wrong?” Black demanded, tense and concerned.
“No,” Draco said honestly. “His connection with wild magic doesn’t… stop when he’s unconscious. I think that between what Weasley did to him and our chaotic bond, his ambient magic is increasing beyond his control while he sleeps.”
“Can anything be done?” Severus asked.
“I’m doing it,” Draco responded evenly. “Maybe if our bond was consummated, it would be a different matter but right now I’m doing all I can to keep him calm while he sleeps. Obviously waking him up is a problem—he’s sleeping very soundly.”
“We can’t help and we should leave alone,” Severus summed up.
Draco laughed sadly. “Yes, I guess so.”
“Very well,” Sirius murmured. “Send one of the elves if you need anything.”
July 25, 1996
Harry forced himself to relax as Blaise Zabini entered the conference room they’d reserved at the bank. He was the last of them to arrive. He sat down at the head of the table and set his gleaming black wand on the table in front of him. Draco followed suit and then the others chose chairs at the table around them.
“First and foremost, thank you for accepting our invitation. I realize the commitment that we are requesting of you.” Harry’s gaze dropped to his wand briefly. “There are a few things I feel that you need to know but unfortunately they must wait until our conclave is sealed. If after hearing what I have to say you feel you can no longer be a member of the conclave—the Headmaster is waiting outside. He will obliviate you and I will do what is necessary to release you from the conclave.”
Neville Longbottom cleared his throat. “Is it that bad, Harry?”
“It’s bad enough,” Harry admitted. “But my own choices are limited.”
“And Draco?” Blaise questioned. “Are your choices limited as well?”
Draco paused and considered his question. “My path in life was chosen by fate and magic. I could ask for no more than that.” He straightened in his chair. “As Harry is the ranking wizard in our conclave—he will lead us in our oath and in our rituals. He has chosen Neville Longbottom to act as our balance as his magic is the most rooted in the earth.”
Harry stood and picked up his wand. “I call upon magic to bless us in our endeavors. I request that the elements listen to our call and that the four winds seal our vow of secrecy and loyalty in the ancient rite of the conclave.” He paused and his wand lit at the tip. “I so vow, So Mote It Be.”
Each wizard at the table lifted their wand and touched Harry’s and once they were all met—the vow sealed on them and Harry’s magic swept over each of them in turn as he accepted them into his personal conclave.
Blaise sat down abruptly when the seal was finished and huffed. “Merlin, Potter, where have you been hiding that? I knew you were powerful—but that was just insane.”
Harry flushed and averted his gaze, which made Blaise and Draco both laugh. “Right then. There are a few things to discuss—the first being that Draco and I would like to complete our bond two days before the start of term. We would travel to Hogwarts via a special portkey and the ritual we’ll be performing is Rituale Amoris Et Unitati. We also believe that it will throw one or both of us into our magical maturation due to the fact that we’ve both claimed our family rings within the last month.”
“So it’s true,” Neville said softly. “You killed your father?”
Draco nodded, clear eyed and guilt free. “He wouldn’t stand down and I couldn’t allow him to torture my mother any more. I knew after the Dark Lord was resurrected that I would eventually have to make a choice between being my father’s son and being my own man. I made the only choice I could live with.”
Neville nodded and lowered his gaze. “I’m sorry you had to do that, Malfoy. The settling of your family magic must have felt like the whole world was falling in on you.”
“Something like that, yes.” Draco inclined his head towards Harry. “Potter, on the other hand, might as well have been on a picnic.”
Harry laughed and watched everyone in the room relax. “Right then. I have copies of the ritual for your study. The Headmaster will actually handle the casting as we will be the junior circle within the ritual. It just seemed important that we invoke our own conclave in our first ritual—especially the one that will seal our soul bond.”
“Soul bond?” Blaise repeated. “You’ve… you’re fated?”
“Yes, we suspected and confirmed it with the Department of Mysteries,” Harry said as he slid scrolls around the table.
“This is a sex ritual,” Neville said aghast.
“We don’t expect any of you to have sex,” Draco said hurriedly before Longbottom came close to passing out. “Harry and I will be the only participants in that part of the ritual.”
“You’re going to fuck in front of us,” Blaise said bluntly.
“It is what the ritual calls for,” George Weasley said casually as he spread out a scroll in front of him. “I’m surprised that the Headmaster has approved this.”
“He suggested it,” Draco admitted. “We’re going to charge the wards at Hogwarts and layer new protections to protect us from Voldemort.”
Ron cleared his throat. “I’m… seriously?”
“You did say I was pretty,” Draco pointed out. “Seeing me naked isn’t exactly a hardship, Weasley.”
“Right. Well.” Ron rubbed the back of his neck. “My mum won’t like this.”
“Your mum isn’t allowed to know,” Harry said dryly. “The secrecy of our conclave prevents you from discussing the rituals we undertake, Ron. She can’t demand you answer any questions about it.”
“None?” Ron asked. “You promise? Because if mum finds out later that I participated in a sex ritual…” He blushed and glanced at the twins. “We’d all three be in a huge amount of trouble.”
“My Gran wouldn’t like it either,” Neville pointed out. “Good thing we can’t tell her about it. I assume that Professor Snape is preparing the potions? Let him know that I have a very potent in full bloom Ambrosia Vitale in my personal greenhouse. It’s a hundred years older than the one at Hogwarts. He might prefer it for his base. He can come to the manor and harvest whatever he needs for the potion.”
Draco stared at him for a few seconds and then nodded. “Of course, that sounds good. I’ll let him know. You can let your Gran know to expect him.”
“Right then.” Neville went back to reviewing the scroll. “Ritual robes… I don’t have any.”
“The Headmaster told me that he would like to provide our robes—a full set of ceremonial and ritual robes as a gift to our conclave,” Harry murmured. “I told him that it would be fine. Draco and I will be expected to be unclothed during the ritual itself but none of the other participants are required to be sky clad. Neville, the Headmaster will want to speak with you privately so you can expect him to visit you again. Even though our conclave won’t be actively participating in the ritual—you will be required to help channel the magic we all gather into the wards along with Dumbledore.” He paused when Neville stared him in shock. “I have no doubts you can do this, Nev. You are a very strong wizard.”
Harry stood up from the table and went to the back of the room. He brought a satchel the table and carefully pulled out the prophecy record.
“I thought that was destroyed at the Department of Mysteries,” Ron said, shocked.
“I destroyed a duplicate record,” Harry admitted. “Not even the Headmaster is aware that I have this.”
He tapped the wand and the prophecy played out.
“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …”
He watched each of them but Draco pale dramatically as they realized the implications of the words spoken.
“Voldemort had a choice between two extremely powerful children, Neville. Two boys who were born at the end of July, whose parents had repeatedly defied him. I was one.” He inclined his head. “And you were the other. He chose me because I’m a half-blood, like him. He marked me his equal but it could have just as easily been you. Bellatrix Lestrange attacked your parents because Voldemort planned to kill us both but I stopped him the night he came for me.”
“The Dark Lord really is a half-blood?” Blaise asked, clearly horrified. “I thought the Prophet was making that up. Are you serious?”
“Extremely,” Harry said shortly. “His father was a Muggle and his mother was a near-squib from the Gaunt family—which oddly enough does make Tom Riddle the Heir of Slytherin. His mother died not long after he was born and he killed his own father when the Muggle man refused to accept him as a son because his mother tricked him with a love potion. That’s the truth of the Dark Lord—he’s a maladjusted arse who grew up unloved and unwanted in a Muggle orphanage.”
Blaise looked at Draco who was staring at the table. “Was this well known during the first war?”
“My father knew but was in denial to the day he died,” Draco said shortly. “Most of the inner circle is aware of the Dark Lord’s parentage but they either overlook it because of fear or insanity. By the time they realized it—most of them were already marked and once you’re marked—there is little to no hope of free will. The Mark acts like a permanent Imperius Curse—no marked witch or wizard can disobey a direct order without suffering immensely for it. It’s a life of pain.”
“The prophecy is this conclave’s most guarded and protected secret,” Harry murmured. “It cannot be pulled from your minds by any means—due to our vows and if you try to speak of it—you’ll pass right out.”
“That’s convenient,” Ron said in agreement. “If mum asks me about what happened today, I’ll try to tell her and pass out. She’ll never question me again about it.”
Blaise grinned. “That’s positively Slytherin, Weasley.”
“Are you insulting me?” Ron asked with a frown. “Because I was kind of under the impression that members of a conclave are basically kin by magic unless they break with the conclave.”
“Nah, it’s my highest compliment.”
“Right.” Ron went back to looking at the parchment. “Can we bring our own rune stones to be charged so that we can protect our own homes as well with the conclave’s magic? I can assume you’ll throw off so much magic that you could easily charge rune stones for us all. Bill could get us a set for the Burrow.”
“That’s a great idea,” Blaise admitted and looked at Ron with surprise.
“Don’t hit on me, Zabini. I’m completely straight,” Ron warned airily. “The twins are manwhores though, they might be interested since you’re so pretty as well.”
“How can you be straight and say that Malfoy and Zabini are pretty?” Neville questioned.
Ron shrugged. “I know pretty when I see it, Nev.” He frowned as he went back to his reading. He set it down and looked at Harry. “Who is in the senior conclave?”
“Albus Dumbledore, Remus Lupin, Severus Snape, Sirius Black, Filius Flitwick, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Arthur Weasley,” Draco answered for him and watched all three Weasleys boys shift uncomfortably in their seats. “This will remain the only ritual we do with them of a sexual nature unless the circumstances are dire. Additionally, we’d never ask you to violate your own personal ethics and engage in acts that would cause you to violate promises made to others—such as wedding vows or the like in the future.”
“I can’t promise the magic we will practice will always be light but it will always be practiced with the best of intentions,” Harry murmured. “The fact is that I’ve been exposed to too much of Voldemort to ever be considered a Light wizard. I am grey, like Zabini, which is one reason why Draco suggested him for our conclave. We are the darkest members of our conclave and that is far as I’d ever like us to go.”
“You mean Draco isn’t…”
Harry smirked. “Draco is lighter than you, Ron. You and I both know you have the will and the drive to do things that could in no way be considered light.”
Ron frowned but finally he nodded. “Just don’t tell my mum.”
“Your secrets are as precious to me as my secrets,” Harry murmured and his wand lit in front of him.
Ron swallowed hard. “Your secrets are as precious to me as my secrets.” He touched his wand and the tip lit.
* * * *
Diagon Alley was crowded due to the coming school year. Even children that weren’t educated at Hogwarts but in the public day schools were bustling around and those who traveled abroad usually bought their supplies before leaving. The entire conclave travelled together—more out of a desire to be close to one another than any other reason. The fresh vows of the conclave encouraged them to closer—to develop stronger relationships. Harry found it amusing and was silently wondering if that circumstance had developed among the older conclave he’d asked Dumbledore to convene. Fortunately, the Alley was so crowded that they weren’t gathering that much attention.
They shrunk their packages as they left the bookshop and went into Eeylops because Harry figured Hedwig deserved some treats. As they left the small shop, they encountered someone that was fast becoming the bane of his existence.
“Harry!” Terry Boot called out and trotted across the street from a small clothing shop. “Can I speak with you?” He offered Draco a glare. “Privately?”
Harry sighed and handed his bag of treats for Hedwig to Draco. “Sure.” He touched his lover’s arm and squeezed it gently as he followed Terry a few feet away. “We’re planning on lunch in the Leaky Cauldron…so…”
“You haven’t responded to any of my letters,” Terry said with a frown. “You have been getting them right?”
“Yes, but I’ve been busy in gathering and sealing my conclave.” He glanced back at the others and found all of them adjusting and moving around as if they were about to fight. “I haven’t been blackmailed or coerced into a relationship with Draco, Terry. I don’t know how you got that in your head at all. Dumbledore was actually pretty shocked by the news and certainly had no part in getting us together. We’ve been dating in secret for over a year.” He ran his fingers through his hair and shrugged. “I don’t know what else to tell you other than that. The reasons for our bonding will become clear soon enough but I can’t discuss them right now.”
Terry frowned at him. “You need to see a Healer, Harry. They can check you for charms and potions. I can’t believe someone so noble as you would be involved with a dark little bastard like Malfoy. I heard he murdered his own father in his sleep for the love of Merlin.”
Harry huffed. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, Terry. If that were true, Draco would be in prison waiting on a trial. The DMLE cleared him of any wrongdoing in his father’s death—it was a matter of self-defense. I saw memories of it myself.”
“You’re just confused and there is no telling what kind of potions he’s feeding you,” Terry said and then reached out and grabbed him. “This is for your own good. You’ll thank me later.”
“Wait!” Harry shouted but it was too late—the pull of a portkey hooked him at the naval and his vision darkened as his magic was nullified. He really hated portkeys.
Draco stared in the space where Boot and Harry had been for a second in complete shock before he gathered himself. “Winky! Dobby!” Both elves appeared immediately. “That nutter Terry Boot has kidnapped Harry. Go find him, right now!” He turned to Neville as the elves disappeared. “Longbottom, go to the nearest floo and contact the DMLE ask for Madame Bones—tell her that Lord Potter has been taken from Diagon Alley by Terry Boot. Ron, find a floo and firecall your mum so she can activate the you-know-what and let her know everything you know. The rest of us will wait for Winky to report back to me.”
They scattered. Half in shock, Draco shrank the bag of Hedwig’s treats and pocketed them. Thirty seconds passed and Winky returned.
“Take me there!” Draco held out his hand and the elf blinked just once before grabbing her master and popping away with him.
“Merlin!” Blaise shouted as wizards and witches started appearing around them. “Professor!” He waved for Snape. “That idiot Boot kidnapped Potter and Draco just let his house elf pop him to their location.”
Severus paled and several others made horrified noises. Traveling with an elf was so agonizing that no wizard or witch did it willingly. Most elves wouldn’t even do it, with or without the threat of punishment, unless their master was in serious danger. “She didn’t protest?”
“She didn’t even hesitate,” George Weasley murmured. “Just blinked her big eyes and took his hand.” He jumped when Winky returned—she looked exhausted.
“Winky, where is your master?” Snape demanded.
“My master Dragon is on the Boot estate,” Winky said in a trembling voice. She held up her finger and a gold light glowed from it. “They have activated their defense wards but Winky threw Master through them with my magic.”
“Merlin’s beard,” Moody hissed. He reached out and touched the gold light to get the coordinates for the Boot estate. “We can apparate outside of the wards.”
“Wait!” Blaise held out a hand. “Make us a portkey.”
“Mr. Zabini…” Dumbledore began but trailed off at the fury that crossed over all of their faces immediately. Ron and Neville returned in that moment. “Very well.”
“Albus,” Minerva started in protest.
Albus summoned an abandoned newspaper and made a portkey. “They are Harry’s conclave, Minerva. There is no higher duty for them and I will not deny them.” Aurors started to appear. “Amelia, we’ve made a portkey.”
Bones rushed forward and put her hand on it along with three Aurors.
* * * *
Draco blasted through five hundred year old oak doors without even pausing as he stalked up the front walk of the Boot home. Winky had thrown him through the wards and his body was wracked with pain, but there was no telling what that bastard was doing to Harry so he couldn’t wait and he didn’t have time to be polite.
Marcus Boot met him at the stairs. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Your foolish son kidnapped Harry Potter in the middle of Diagon Alley,” Draco snapped. “He used a portkey! If I find out you had anything to do with this Marcus… any business you had with the House of Malfoy or the House of Potter will end today.”
“He didn’t kidnap anyone. He rescued the boy,” Marcus protested. “He told me all about how he was being manipulated into doing something dark…” He trailed off when Draco advanced on him. “I won’t let you near him!”
“I’ll kill you,” Draco said icily. “You shouldn’t doubt it.”
“I don’t,” Marcus said and pulled his own wand. “You killed your own father after all.”
“He had it coming.” Draco drew both wands and Boot paled dramatically. “Get out of my way—before you son does something to my Harry that can’t be forgiven.”
Marcus’ gaze widened and he lowered his wand. “I don’t… Terry wouldn’t…”
“It’s a pity you don’t know your own son,” Draco hissed as Marcus stepped aside and he bolted up the stairs. “You should let the rest of the people who came after me through your wards.”
“How did you get through?” Nigel demanded.
“I had my house elf throw me through them,” Draco snapped without looking back. “Dobby!”
“I is here!” Dobby shouted. “I can’t get throughs the door!”
Draco rounded the corner and found Dobby hammering on a pair of double doors with his magic. The walls around him were cracking under the strain. “Dobby, stand back.” Draco caught the elf and pulled him away. “I know what to do.”
“Save my Harry Potter!” Dobby pleaded. “Mean wizard boy put up bad wards!”
He had, Draco thought. It must be the family ’safe room’. Many Pure-blood families had them and they often had the darkest, strongest wards on them. These were blood wards but Draco was undeterred. He started to cast—weaving his magic into the blood wards in ways few people were capable of. Harry had taught him this—years ago when they’d been searching for a three little Muggle-born children who had been kidnapped from their families. One of the Pure-blood families had been devastated with losses during the war and had decided to replenish their family through magical and blood adoptions. Harry had torn their hideaway to pieces.
The wards started to buckle just as Bones and Dumbledore came storming up the stairs. “Marcus, take down these wards!” Dumbledore demanded.
“I can’t,” Marcus said in protest. “They are attached to a rune stone inside the room. My ancestors have been building these wards for five hundred years. I don’t…” He trailed off in horror as the wards started to shred—brightening to a vivid red as Draco Malfoy ripped them asunder like paper.
“Merlin,” Bones muttered under her breath.
“Not quite,” Draco murmured as he continued, sweat beaded on his forehead.
The wards dissipated in a red mist and Draco sent dual reductos at the door and stalked inside. What he found nearly had him committing murder for the second time in less than a month. Harry was stripped naked and strapped down to another fucking altar. Boot came forward with a wand immediately and Draco flicked him away without a word—stunning him and petrifying him with the same spell.
He put away his wands and moved quickly to his mate. “Wait, Dobby, don’t touch him.”
“My Master Harry Potter!” Dobby cried. “He hurt my master!”
There was blood—Boot had carved several runes on his chest. Draco studied the altar with dark eyes, taking each rune sequence even as he noticed the others doing the same. Harry was putting off a dark green glow that was disconcerting as hell.
“What is this?” Sirius demanded. “Half these runes have no business being activated together.”
“He must have found our magical bond attached to Harry’s core once he got him here. He’s preparing a ritual divorce. It won’t work of course but he had no way of knowing that. He didn’t have time to do much—just twenty minutes but if he had the altar set up in advance…” Draco trailed off. “He knew we were set to bond—he might have prepared this in case he didn’t get Harry away from me in time to prevent the bond.”
“Is it hurting you?” Amelia questioned.
“No,” Draco said shortly. “Or if it is—I can’t tell. I did let Winky pop me and then throw me through a set of war-level defense wards. I’m surprised I can stand.” He flicked his wrist to return his second wand to its holster and used his dominant wand to cut his palm decisively. “I need you all to stand back.”
“Draco, are you sure…” Neville trailed off.
“He’s my whole life, Neville, I’d never act if I wasn’t sure,” Draco whispered. He let his blood drip on a single rune and the light on the altar shifted from green to blue and then finally white before it flowed off Harry like mist and dissipated. “That’s the first time in years that I actually felt grateful to my father for what he taught me.” He healed his cut and then flicked his wand to undo the manacles that were holding Harry and his magic at bay. Then he cast a scourgify across the entire altar to clean off his and Harry’s blood. “Stand back everyone, he’s going to come up swinging.” He pointed his wand at his mate. “Rennervate!”
Harry’s body coiled and he rolled off the table. “Accio my wands!” He crouched naked on the floor even as a wand snapped into his hand. He snagged the second wand as it whipped through the air.
“Oh, my Master Harry Potter is naked in front of strange wizards!” Dobby shouted and rushed across the room with his arms full of Harry’s clothes. “Mean stupid boy wizard take his fine clothes.” He tossed them slightly and snapped his fingers and they appeared on Harry, the robe ruffling gently around him as it settled.
“Dragon,” Harry murmured and reached out half-blind for Malfoy.
“I’m here,” Draco went to him, falling to his knees. “Merlin, Potter, you are always such a bloody adventure.” He huffed and ran his fingers through Harry’s hair and brushed a kiss over his forehead causing the golden light to snap between them and several people in the room exhaled sharply in surprise. “Accio Potter’s glasses.”
“I need to make that stupid potion,” Harry murmured as Draco slid his glasses back into place on his face.
“Too young,” Draco responded at a near whisper. “But magical contacts wouldn’t be out of place.” He helped him stand and glared at Marcus Boot. “Do you realize what your son tried to do?”
Marcus nodded, clearly horrified. “He tried to sever a soul bond.”
“You realize we can no longer do business with your family,” Harry murmured quietly. “He is untrustworthy. You know Draco would have been within his rights to kill him.”
“Potter,” Bones began. “We should conduct a medical scan to make sure he didn’t…”
“He didn’t,” Harry replied. “If he had, I would certainly feel the effects physically as I have no sexual experience to speak of. He may have touched me but he didn’t attempt any sort of penetration.” He blushed furiously and averted his gaze. “I wish to leave. Mr. Boot, it is your son’s best interests that he never speak or approach me in any manner ever again. He violated my trust, attempted to cause me unforgiveable harm, and would have violated my body if he’d been left to pursue his ends. All of which pales in comparison to the suffering he caused my bond mate as far as I’m concerned.”
“Lord Potter…” Marcus Boot began and then he shook his head. He cleared his throat. “Headmaster, I will be sending Terrance abroad to finish his education—if you would be so kind as to send me his records so that I may place him in a new school as soon as possible?”
“Of course, Marcus.”
Harry cleared his throat. “I’m going to require a vow from you, Mr. Boot and you’ll have to seal one on Terry because I can’t see him agreeing to do it of his own freewill.”
“We could obliviate the kid,” Moody muttered and glared right back at anyone who dared shoot him a dirty look for the suggestion. “He kidnapped Potter and attempted to severe the soul bond of an archmagus! The only one of us who took this kid’s obsession with Potter seriously is Malfoy. I think it’s high time we all took it seriously and dealt with it accordingly.”
“What oath would you ask of me?” Marcus Boot asked in a low tone.
“You will vow to keep the identity of my soul mate and archmagus partner a secret until the knowledge is commonly known in the wizarding world,” Harry murmured. “It will be announced at the end of August when we consummate our bond. You will further vow to keep secret whatever magic you saw Lord Draco Malfoy perform in his efforts to rescue me. Neither you nor your family will seek compensation for the damages he might have caused to your home or wards in his efforts.” He paused and then glanced briefly at Moody. “You will allow the Headmaster to alter Terry’s memories of this day. That he used a portkey to take me from Diagon Ally is well known so we can’t obliviate that memory from him—we can, however, change the events he experienced after his arrival here with me. He should forget everything he might have learned about me and my magic as he prepared whatever ritual he was attempting.”
“Perhaps, it is best if Mr. Boot believes that upon his return to his estate with Lord Potter’s unconscious body, his father interfered and contacted me immediately,” Amelia said. “He will remember that Lord Potter is not suffering under any potions or compulsions and that his attempts to rescue him from his situation were met with hostility and disbelief by Lord Potter.”
Marcus nodded. “He would accept a transfer to a different school based on those conditions.” He sighed. “My boy is a good person… he just made a mistake today.”
Harry glanced at the altar and frowned. “You realize that the ritual he was preparing involved sex, correct? He intended to rape me while I was unconscious in an effort to sever my magical bond with Lord Malfoy. Frankly, Mr. Boot, those are not the actions of a good person.”
* * * *
Harry squirmed under the healing wand of Madame Pomfrey and watched with relief as she healed the small cuts on his chest carefully. Fortunately, there would be no scars as the blade Boot had used hadn’t been cursed or spelled to leave scars. “You’d think I’d be used to this.”
Poppy sighed. “Why haven’t you asked me for a full medical scan since your emancipation? Your Aunt Petunia refused me the right repeatedly and my own oaths prevented me from doing it without permission. If I’d known I could have owled Sirius with the request—I would have, but only the Dursleys were listed in your school medical files.”
“I didn’t know she’d refused you,” Harry admitted. “Snape did a diagnostic scan and set me up with some nutrient potions.”
“He shared his results with me,” Poppy admitted. “I designed your nutrient plan.” She paused in her healing. “May I do a full scan?”
“Yes, of course.”
She finished the healing and then started to wave her wand in a complicated pattern while she spoke lowly in Latin. Harry knew the charm, of course, he’d taken several healing course in order to be better prepared in the field to deal with injuries both to suspects and his own partner. He watched her face go through a series of emotions before it settled on grim and furious.
“I knew, of course, after what Severus said about your bones and organ development. I should have gone to Albus when your aunt refused the first time and requested a legal remedy from the Ministry. I can when I suspect abuse but you didn’t… say anything and you didn’t project any of the emotional or mental symptoms. I’m sorry, Mr. Potter, I failed you. I don’t know how you can even trust me to act as your healer.”
Harry reached out and took her shaking hand. “I didn’t say anything. I learned to keep my mouth shut, you know. I told a teacher once in my Muggle school and my aunt got her fired from her job. I don’t know how or why but I’ve come to believe that there were people in the Ministry who didn’t want me to grow up to be any kind of threat.”
Poppy’s eyes went flinty briefly but then she took a deep breath. “Right. Well, your right femur was broken; it healed but not well. You know what I want to do?”
Harry nodded. He hated the very idea of having the bone vanished and regrown. “Should that wait until after I’ve finished the nutrient potions?”
“Yes,” Poppy nodded.
“How is Draco?” Harry questioned. The Healer had been furious when Harry had refused treatment until after Draco had been seen to.
“You were right,” Poppy said wryly. “He needed my attention more than you did. I understand his motivation and I’m frankly stunned by his stamina. I was told he tore down familial blood wards to get to you and that was after being popped and having his crazy little elf throw him through a set of defense wards. He’s magically exhausted, some of his organs had been compressed from the popping, and there was a large amount of nerve damage, but I’ve healed him and we poured some potions down him despite his protest. He’s resting and you can join him soon enough.” She cleared her throat. “I know that you denied any sexual contact at the scene but I need you to be honest with me. I noticed there is a lingering soreness in your groin area.”
Harry blew out a breath. “He didn’t penetrate me but I think he might have tried to make me erect. I have some blurry memories of it—his hand on me but nothing substantial. He wasn’t successful. I already have a magical and spiritual bond with Draco. Boot had no chance of stimulating me into arousal.”
“So the soreness is from his rough handling,” Poppy murmured. “You shouldn’t be embarrassed, Mr. Potter. This was all his doing and not your fault.”
“That’s not why I kept it to myself,” Harry admitted. “I’ll tell Draco eventually but if he’d heard that at the time with Boot right there—he would have killed him. I didn’t want him to do that—there are plenty of people around here just looking for an excuse to decide that Draco is as unredeemable as his father.”
“Anyone who has ever bothered to read Draco’s aura knows that is not true—even your aura isn’t as pure as his… though that’s not your fault. Your aura changed after you were hit with the killing curse,” Poppy did another scan and sighed. “Yes, well, we have to make a plan for you next year. The nutrient potions are going to cause a few growth spurts and you’ll want to do as much physical exercise as you can when you return to school. Quidditch won’t be enough.”
* * * *
“They’re sleeping,” Poppy announced softly. She sat down at the table and accepted the tea that Molly offered. “Harry was right—I don’t know how Draco was still on his feet much less talking.”
“He’ll recover?” Narcissa questioned softly.
“Yes, of course.” Poppy smiled but her eyes remained dark with subdued anger. “They’ve both suffered quite a bit in their lives. I’m going to have to vanish and regrow several bones for Harry after he finishes his nutrient potions. Now that he’s emancipated, I was allowed to do a full medical work up. His Muggle aunt wouldn’t allow it before. She wrote back the second time I asked and told me that I was only allowed to provide emergency care because she didn’t want him tainted with my voodoo any more than necessary.”
Narcissa snorted and then covered her mouth when the other women turned to stare at her in shock. “My apologies… it’s just that voodoo is so… pedestrian.”
Poppy grinned and Minerva laughed softly.
“There are some lovely rituals though,” Molly offered as she brought a plate of biscuits to the table. “Bill has told me about several that he picked up that would probably be classified as voodoo though many fall into black magic which is… frankly horrifying.”
Narcissa nodded. “I convinced Lucius early on that it wouldn’t be proper to break our son’s bones in his lessons. I feel like a weak coward for not doing more to protect Draco.”
“Considering your condition,” Poppy began softly. “I’m surprised you had the mental faculties to accomplish that. Does your son know that Lucius fed you loyalty potions most of your marriage?”
Narcissa shook her head. “It isn’t like he could kill him twice—though I imagine he’d certainly like to try.”
“I saw the memory,” Minerva murmured. “Your son is… a force to be reckoned with frankly. Lucius was a fool for not backing down.”
“He was a fool for many reasons, the least of them being not realizing what kind of man he was really raising,” Molly said and then raised an eyebrow when Narcissa glanced at her, shocked. “He had a great deal of potential, a beautiful wife, family wealth, strong familial magic, and a son who is a brilliant and beautiful combination of you both. He was a complete fool for the path he took in life. I haven’t seen the memory but Arthur has.” She paused. “He showed Ron.”
“Why?” Narcissa questioned, wide-eyed.
“He wanted to make sure our youngest son understood exactly who Draco is and what he went through that night. Ron has always been unsatisfied with what he has and Arthur wanted him to understand that for all of your son’s wealth that he grew up poor in comparison to Ron. My children have never had to wonder if their father loved them. I don’t know that Draco ever even harbored any belief that his father might have loved him.”
Narcissa’s eyes fluttered close. “After the Dark Lord was… when we thought he was gone for good… those few months we had of peace were a blessing. He stopped raging over the smallest of things, he took Draco and I places—we went on a family trip to Italy.”
“Narcissa,” Minerva leaned forward. “How long have you known that the Dark Lord wasn’t dead?”
“Since shortly after Draco’s second birthday,” Narcissa admitted and averted her gaze at the shock that filtered around the room. “His spectral form came to Lucius—he was still weak and so furious. He attempted to possess Lucius but couldn’t.”
Narcissa laughed bitterly. “The Dark Mark protected my husband from it, if you can believe the irony. Lucius was insane and so very willing to be the Dark Lord’s host but the Mark repelled him time and time again. He didn’t have the power to possess anyone magical for years but sometimes he would take over a Muggle so that he could move around in the physical world. Over the years, Crabbe, Goyle, and my husband performed several rituals in order to draw the Dark Lord back into the physical world, but they couldn’t. When Draco was five, Lucius told me that the Dark Lord had gone abroad and the remaining Death Eaters had resolved not to search for him. It wasn’t until he returned in Quirinus Quirrell that Lucius heard from him again—it was insane drivel, accusing Lucius and the others of abandoning him.”
“And the diary in second year?” Minerva questioned.
“I begged Lucius not to do it,” she whispered. “But he couldn’t disobey the Dark Lord, not even if he’d wanted to. I was tempted to pull Draco out of the school and run with him but I didn’t believe I would get very far before Lucius stopped me. I wasn’t even allowed to warn our son—Lucius never let me have any privacy so the letters I sent out where always read by him.” Her fingers trembled. “I tried to poison him in Draco’s third year.”
“Oh.” Minerva blinked in surprise. “What happened?”
“He was a paranoid bastard,” Narcissa explained. “I thought he was going to kill me for it but he just laughed and congratulated me on finally acting like a Slytherin.” She paused. “He bought me a new wardrobe as a reward and let me attend one of Draco’s quidditch games. Then he took me home and beat me so badly I didn’t leave my bed for two weeks.”
“I’d like to take my wand to him, too.” Minerva huffed and picked up another biscuit to munch on. “I never did like that smarmy little git—I should’ve given him twice as many detentions as I did.”
They all turned to stare at her. The laughter that came immediately brought much needed relief.
* * * *
Sirius shifted at the sound of laughter coming from the kitchen. “Well, at least they’re getting her to laugh.” He sighed. “She’s still trying to talk Draco into allowing her to stay here but I think the time in the clinic would be good for her.”
Severus nodded. “I told her as much myself. I’ll be taking her to get her settled after the ritual. Narcissa has suffered entirely too much in her life to just move on without help. Draco fears she’ll turn to potions or worse to self-medicate if she’s left alone and the damage Lucius left behind has a chance to fester inside of her.” He frowned and glared at Sirius. “What did you tell Potter about me?”
Remus laughed and Arthur Weasley cleared his throat noisily.
“Whatever do you mean, Severus?” Sirius questioned, wide-eyed.
Severus rolled his eyes. “I should’ve hexed you more often when we were children—now Albus would lecture me for it.” He lit a Muggle cigarette with his wand and inhaled sharply. “Don’t make me hurt you, Black.”
Sirius just grinned. “Funny you should say that.” He leaned forward and with a glance towards the door he whispered. “I just told him what a fantastic shag you were in school.”
Severus coughed and started to sputter. “You son of a bitch! I have to teach him!”
Sirius shrugged, completely unrepentant. “You think you’re going to be able to maintain this moat of disdain you have around you after you watch those two have ritual soul bonding sex? Seriously? You know what that kind of magic is going to do to us.” He whistled a little. “Besides I had to distract him from the fact that I also slept with his father—I couldn’t lie to him and he asked. Why would he ask that?”
“I would’ve,” Bill Weasley said from the other side of the room where he was nursing a single glass of fire whiskey. “I mean I’d ask you if you slept with my dad but he already told me that he didn’t because he was already married when you came of age.” He glanced his way again and smirked. “Hell, Sirius, you’re so pretty I’m tempted to crawl in your lap on a daily basis.”
Sirius grinned. “Feelings mutual, young man, except I’m afraid of your mum.”
“Aren’t we all,” Severus muttered.
July 27, 1996
Misconceptions, Harry thought, were really the mother of modern invention. He eyed the Dueling Field Generator as he shed the lightweight day robe that Draco had prodded him into before allowing him to leave the fourth floor. While his Dragon was casual in private—he insisted on a certain appearance in front of non-family and Black Manor was overrun with “non-family” as far as Draco Malfoy was concerned.
He listened with half an ear while Moody explained the DFG and how it had been created and charmed shortly after the war with Grindelwald, under the mistaken idea that Auror trainees really wouldn’t want to have the opportunity to hurt each other. The device was a bank of magically charged crystals that created an illusion so real that more than one trainee had come out of the advanced training scenarios emotionally scarred for life. The first time Harry had played in the DFG had been at the Auror Academy in his second year of training. He’d referred to it as a “magical holodeck”. That was how his lover had been inadvertently introduced to Muggle television and Star Trek specifically.
The DFG would allow those engaged in the field to battle multiple opponents and each other if the mood struck without fear of real injury. Spells, curses, and hexes, no matter how powerfully cast, were merely an illusion within the dueling field and injuries would be simulated on any “real” people in the scenario. Of course, the participants in the training illusions couldn’t use the Unforgiveables, it resulted in an automatic fail. The illusions could use them at will, however, so it added a layer of reality to the scenarios that had traumatized many students at the academy since the device had been created.
“Potter, have you heard a word I’ve said?” Moody demanded.
“Every word,” Harry said without missing a beat. He lifted himself off the floor as he finished one long stretch and glanced at Draco who had always done a better job of appearing interested. “Considering this is the first time Draco and I are using the DFG, I think you’re right to assume we should start out on lower levels. However, I agree with Draco that you should allow the device to assess us individually and together and adjust itself as we move through scenarios. No one, not even you, is capable of unbiased judgment. You’ll either under or over estimate us based on your own expectations of our successes and failure. The device will be impartial.” He paused. “Also, Molly Weasley won’t be able to blame you if she thinks we’ve over extended ourselves or if she wanders down here and sees something that sets her hair on fire.”
Moody snorted and nodded. “Agreed. I’ll set it up.”
* * * *
Sirius was in the small observation room they’d made to oversee activity in the large basement they’d cleaned out and warded for training. Moody was watching Harry and Draco move through their sixth training scenario for the afternoon—they were in an illusion of an abandoned warehouse in a Muggle business district surrounded by machinery and a stupid amount of dark wizards.
“What’s their current body count?” Remus asked dryly as he entered.
“Seventy-three,” Moody muttered. “They are vicious—Albus will be horrified.”
“Vicious?” Remus questioned.
“Potter has personally beheaded ten dark wizards in the last hour alone,” Moody motioned towards the current illusion. “While Malfoy favors evisceration. They always aim to maim and go in for the kill eight times out of ten. The only time they take prisoners is when the scenario instructs that they do so and then they only take the minimum required. So far, they’ve had no friendly fire or civilian casualties. Malfoy defers to Potter in team situations and they move around each other like dancers in a duel. They obviously feed off one another magically and emotionally. Potter calms Malfoy down and Malfoy gives Potter focus.”
“He did say they naturally compensate for each other’s weaknesses,” Remus said weakly.
“It’s certainly true,” Sirius sent his friend a wry smile. “Half an hour ago, we threw Greyback into a scenario with them—he was gutted and beheaded on sight.”
“He didn’t even get to taunt them once,” Moody muttered and huffed emotionally. “These boys are fast becoming sons to me.”
Remus stared briefly at the retired Auror in horror and then quickly schooled his expression. “How are their power levels holding?”
“Potter moderates and controls their magical reserves—it’s like he has a direct insight into Malfoy’s core. If we didn’t have the mage field activated we wouldn’t be able to see it—but we’ve watched him feed his partner magic twice in the last hour or so. Earlier, Malfoy threw a series of fireballs and Potter caught two of them. He held them without injury and then threw them both with the same amount of power that Malfoy used at a wall to gain entrance into a house to rescue a kidnapped witch.”
Remus nodded. “What do you think, Sirius?”
“I think I’m going to steal Dobby’s Harry Potter is a Badass t-shirt and start wearing it around the house,” Sirius announced without even smirking.
“Yous a bad dogfather,” Dobby admonished as he popped out of thin air. “Dobby hears you threaten to takes my precious!” He wagged a finger at Sirius and then snapped his fingers. A t-shirt appeared in his hand. “Dobby makes you one!”
Sirius took the t-shirt and tossed it over his shoulder with a grin as the elf disappeared. “Though, seriously? I’ve never seen anything like them. I don’t know what they’ve been doing in private since they started training but it is insane how in tune they are with each other and their own magic. It’s like they’ve been casting together for ten or more years.”
“I agree,” Moody said. “It’ll be a pleasure to see what they are like even five years from now.” He snorted. “Still, Albus, will be displeased by the synergy. I think he plans… well, you realize how he likes to manipulate?”
“Yes,” Remus admitted ruefully. “For the greater good and all that rot.”
“Right.” Moody nodded. “Well, he asked me to scan Malfoy to see if he was fully matured or if he could be influenced in order to help him control Potter—just to the betterment of us all, you know.”
Sirius snorted. “And?”
“Malfoy is fully matured and appears to have been for weeks if not months. Potter lied his ass off when he said his partner wasn’t through his maturation,” Moody said and then smirked at Remus’ shock. “He did say more than once that his partner comes first—above anyone and everything else. I can assume that meant hiding him until he was no longer under Lucius Malfoy’s authority. I don’t imagine they anticipated Draco losing his temper and killing his own father this summer in the resulting duel.”
“I don’t think he lost his temper,” Sirius murmured. “You saw him the day Boot took Harry—he was calculating, powerful, and completely in control of himself. He never lost control of his magic or his mental faculties. He also tore down familial blood wards like they were nothing and had the presence of mind to figure out how to deactivate a family ritual altar he’d never seen before.”
“Oh.” Remus took a deep breath. “You’re right—and he did it all after letting his insane little elf pop him. Poppy said he had compressed organs and nerve damage over 70% of his body. That he was standing at all was a miracle.”
“The nerve damage was probably from being thrown through those defense wards,” Moody muttered. “They were very strong—it would’ve taken us hours to break them down as a group. Certainly long enough for Terrence Boot to have damaged Potter significantly since his magic was being suppressed. That is something we should work on—the lad is too trusting.”
“I doubt he’ll make that same mistake twice,” Sirius said softly. “It hurt and damaged his partner. Harry was furious over what Malfoy endured to get to him. It was enough I think to make him reevaluate friendships and interactions with practically everyone. He hasn’t let anyone but Draco touch him since the kidnapping.”
“I noticed,” Moody allowed. “Still, a little paranoia would help them both.”
The door opened and Hermione Granger slipped in with her ever present shadow. Sirius wondered when Ron Weasley was finally going to tell the witch he was mad over her. He couldn’t figure them out really—she was brilliant and he was lazy. She was ambitious and cunning. He was often cruel and thoughtless. They both had prejudiced and daft ideas about life in general. Maybe that was their common ground.
“What is this?” Hermione questioned as she stared down into the dueling chamber.
“We’re running a Dueling Field Generator—it’s an Auror training device,” Moody admitted. “Madame Bones allocated one for Potter and Malfoy to use to train their archmagus abilities and to develop their partnership completely before the summer end. They’ll spend five to six hours a day in it until the last of August.”
“So the people they are fighting aren’t real?” She flinched as Harry sent a high-powered reducto at someone and their head literally exploded. “It’s very realistic.”
“That’s the point—if they’re hit, they’ll feel pain equivalent to what the damage the real spell would’ve done. If they suffer what should’ve been a catastrophic injury—they fail the scenario and it ends,” Remus explained. “So far, they’ve suffered little to no injury.”
“They’ve also demonstrated a huge amount of magical ability and the good level of field healing spells,” Sirius admitted. “Their spell repertoire is expanding rapidly thanks to the absorption crystal I have embedded in their bed.”
“Those are illegal,” Hermione said aghast.
Sirius shrugged. “They aren’t illegal to own or use—they’re just illegal to buy. Mine were inherited. The set has been in my family for seven hundred years. I’m sure Harry has a set in Family vault.”
Hermione frowned. “Is that how he learned all that stuff for Ancient Runes and Arithmancy?”
Sirius snorted. “No, he did those essays for the professors before those subjects were even covered by the crystals. He isn’t using it to cheat on his homework, Granger, he’s using the crystal to prepare for war. It is full of stuff on Muggle and magical military history, treatises on the wars with Grindelwald and the first blood war with Voldemort. Combat magic across several disciplines of magic including Russian and Chinese. Philosophy, magical history, and then, of course, I threw in stuff on estate management and politics for them both since they have claimed their titles.”
She nodded. “He’s kept a lot from us—his extra study and Malfoy specifically.”
“They were entangled,” Ron offered. “And I would’ve done the same. If magic gave me a soul mate and magical partner all wrapped up in a slick, powerful package like Draco Malfoy—I’d have kept him a secret until I had no choice but to reveal him. I certainly wouldn’t have told anyone about him before he matured. It was dangerous for them both before then. Either could’ve been taken by the Ministry and influenced in ways that would have controlled them both.”
Hermione huffed. “We’re his best friends, Ron.”
“And Draco Malfoy is his soul mate,” Ron shrugged and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Maybe that doesn’t mean the same thing to Muggles, Hermione, but for magical people the concept of a soul mate is divine. Magic has deemed them in all ways perfect for each other. Their goals and ambitions will always dovetail, they’ll provide each other will all the support and comfort they could possibly require. Neither of them will ever walk this world alone again.”
“What if one of them dies?” Hermione questioned.
“The one left behind might last an hour, I suppose it is all individual. Archmagus pairs are so rare,” Ron murmured. “Maybe he’d have just enough time to get some revenge if his partner’s death wasn’t natural. I could do a lot with an hour if I was properly motivated.”
Moody snorted. “Word.”
Hermione stared at the old Auror, horrified, and below them Draco Malfoy set fire to six Death Eaters with a wave of his hand.
* * * *
July 28, 1996
The worst part of training scenarios was the viewing sessions that took place afterward. The Headmaster had missed their first turn with the device and was using the reviewing function to insert himself into their training. He’d hated review sessions in the future too as the people at the Auror Academy had taken a special interest in them during training. Harry had made himself some tea while Moody and Dumbledore had sadistically taken a part their performance and critiqued them. They got extra points for being vicious from Moody and a disappointed look from Dumbledore every time one of them killed during a scenario. Most of the Order were watching the recorded illusions in shock.
“I realize these are just training exercises,” Dumbledore began as the last illusion ended with a faded swish of magic and the device darkened. “But your penchant for a permanent solution is disconcerting.”
Harry stirred his tea casually and Draco looked up from his grimoire. He closed the jade green book with a small sound of annoyance and tucked it into a robe pocket. “The only good Death Eater is a dead one, Headmaster.”
Albus stared at him shock. “Mr. Malfoy…”
“Lord actually,” Harry corrected wryly. “And he’s right—I’m not going to stun a Death Eater and then leave him on the ground behind me only to have another Death Eater wake him so he can curse me in the back. Every enemy I leave alive on the battlefield is a threat to me and mine. They certainly won’t hesitate to kill as many of you as they can—that you value their lives over your own is quite foolish and hardly serves the Light. We need all the fighters we have and we can’t afford to have them fall in battle because they’re incapable of doing what is necessary.”
“But… people can change.”
“But most people don’t,” Harry returned evenly. “And let’s be honest, even those who do change do so for purely selfish reasons. Snape, how do most Death Eaters earn the Dark Mark?”
“Most often the murder of an innocent,” Severus answered without blinking an eye. “A Muggle, Muggle-born, or a half-blood. Though in all honesty, I earned my Mark by the cold blooded murder of one of his own followers.” He sat back in his chair at the looks of horror he received. “He believed the man had turned from the cause and my task was to kill him in the most painful way possible. I poisoned him. It took him three months to die and it was in agony.”
“Constantine Rookwood,” Amelia Bones murmured. “That was you? Snape…”
“I’ve been pardoned for that crime, Madame Bones,” Snape said shortly.
She sighed. “I was just going to say thank you—he was a monster and had been considered such for much longer than it was known that he might be a Death Eater. I’d just joined the Auror corps when he was killed—he was a very corrupt and dark man. He certainly earned the death he received.”
Severus nodded his agreement. “Yes, he favored rape and torture as a Death Eater. In fact, his lack of belief in the Pure-blood cause eventually led to his death. That he’d only joined the Dark Lord’s forces so that he could torture people was well received at first but Riddle grew paranoid near the end from what I’ve been led to believe. I was only in his service for less than six months when I realized what a foolish thing I’d done. Fortunately, my work as a potions master kept me from having to indulge in his darker hobbies. Practicing the Dark Arts can ruin a potions master and the Dark Lord didn’t want my work tainted.”
“How does the half-blood son of a near-squib and a Muggle turn into a blood purist?” Emmeline Vance asked. Harry thought she probably didn’t believe the story at all.
“Cunning, self-hatred, and a fanatical following,” Harry said shortly. “Hitler persecuted Jews and was Jewish himself. Grindelwald was a Pure-blood but he fell in love with a half-blood. Muggle terrorism is wrought with religious fanatics who vehemently and often violently protest the ways of other religious fanatics while they desecrate their own holy books with their actions. No religion advocates the wholesale slaughter of other human beings or the total subjugation of women in the name of a god. People like Tom Riddle just need a reason and it doesn’t matter if the reason only makes sense to them.”
* * * *
Harry hated the Minister for Magic. Granted, he knew from experience that there were worse men than Cornelius Fudge. At least he hadn’t kept them waiting, though the Minister’s immediate response to their arrival had put Percy Weasley’s back up. Draco was hooded and they’d portkeyed into the Ministry with Amelia Bones.
“Is this… Lord Potter, I’m pleased to have you in my office today. Dumbledore.” Fudge gave the Headmaster a brief nod and it was obvious the rotund little man would prefer that the elderly wizard leave.
Albus just smiled pleasantly at him. “Cornelius, Harry and I thought it prudent to meet with you since he and his archmagus partner have been using a few resources of the DMLE to train.”
Fudge lifted an eyebrow and looked pointedly at Draco. Malfoy for his part, slowly lifted his hands and lowered his hood in a smooth gesture. The color drained rapidly out of the Minister’s face and Harry wondered what bothered the man more—Draco’s reputation, the fact that he’d killed his own father, or the knowledge that he had absolutely no hope of ever manipulating either one of them.
Draco took a seat beside him and casually crossed his legs. “Minister, it’s a pleasure to see you. Thank you for your condolences on the loss of my father.”
“Yes, well…” Fudge trailed off and sat down abruptly in his chair. “But… archmagus are light.”
“Ah,” Dumbledore began with a bright smile. “They are warriors for the Light, Minister. Both Lord Potter and Lord Malfoy have fully matured into the archmagus gifts, of which we can only be fortunate, they’re training daily and using absorption crystals at night. The crystals are family heirlooms on loan from the House of Black. I assure you there will be no legal problem issues concerning their use.”
Fudge nodded numbly. “What are they being instructed in?”
“Combat magic, dueling, philosophy, magical history, Muggle military history, meditation, animagus, elemental magic, warding, wild magic, all of the core topics taught at Hogwarts and of course, estate management.” Dumbledore flicked off the list as if it was nothing and smiled pleasantly at the Minister when the man’s jaw slowly dropped lower and lower as he spoke.
“We don’t have combat magic as a discipline in here in Britain. Not even our Aurors are taught it,” Fudge whispered.
“No, but the Russians and the Chinese have extensive backgrounds in combat magic. I’ve even arranged to borrow texts and scrolls from a friend in Hong Kong.” Dumbledore wet his lips. “Tea, Cornelius?”
“Oh, yes, of course.” Fudge quickly called for an elf and ordered tea for them all. “My apologies, I was so… excited to have you all here that I’ve totally neglected my manners. You said you’ve been using DMLE resources?”
“We’ve borrowed a Dueling Field Generator,” Harry murmured. “Retired Auror Moody has been overseeing our training with the device under the supervision of Madame Bones. Draco and I feel, however, that if we are going to use the resources of the DMLE the department should benefit in some way for it. We are prepared to donate twenty-five thousand galleons, each, to the department for the purpose of buying equipment for the Aurors being trained and currently in the field.”
“Twenty-five thousand each?” Fudge asked, his eyes wide. “Boys, that is a very generous donation!”
“We must insist that it all be earmarked for the DMLE and that Madame Bones will handle the donation personally,” Draco said dryly. “I’d rather not see my money end up on a pet project of yours, Fudge.”
The Minister nodded. “Of course, that is no problem. Your donation will be completely under the aegis of Madame Bones. It will benefit us greatly in the coming war.”
“We agree,” Harry murmured. “Additionally, Draco and I are both prepared to sign magical contracts swearing our intent to attend the Auror Academy and work as Aurors for no less than ten years after the completion of the war, barring any catastrophic injury or death in exchange for the use of the Auror training facilities – one day a week for the rest of the summer and then every Saturday during the school year. We both need in depth lessons on spell casting on a broom, to be honest. We are above average flyers but that doesn’t necessarily translate into the ability to duel well in the air. We’d also be open to anything else the Head Auror or Madame Bones would like us to be trained in.”
Fudge nodded. He cleared his throat. “I have a request from the Unspeakables. Croaker would like to meet with one or both of you to discuss your abilities.”
“We are not available to the Department of Mysteries,” Draco said coolly. “It is a violation of Ministry and magical law for fated couples to be subjected to any sort of experimentation, Minister.”
“Oh, no, no experimentation!” Fudge assured. “Just an interview—they have some questions. The last archmagus pair was quite some time ago and I imagine everyone is a little curious about the two of you.”
“At this time, we are not willing to indulge in anyone’s curiosity regarding our gifts,” Harry said. “It would be dangerous as such information might find its way into the hands of Voldemort.”
“But they are quite insistent,” Fudge said as he twisted his hands together on his desk in front of them.
“It would be a mistake for anyone in this Ministry to labor under the impression that Potter or I can be controlled in such a manner, Minister Fudge. We agree to future employment but even you must know that employment will have a standard by which the Ministry itself must act. We will not bind ourselves in such a manner that we won’t be free to act on injustice or to act in the defense of ourselves,” Draco murmured, his gaze narrow and accessing. “We will not be answering questions at this time. In fact, the wizarding world will simply have to wait until we are dead. At which time I’m sure that whoever is in charge will pillage our personal papers and vaults for information as that is the only proper way to go about it.”
Dumbledore cleared his throat delicately. “Cornelius, surely you understand that some information is better kept as a secret as possible. You have no way of being certain that there aren’t Death Eater’s still working in the Department of Mysteries. After all, since the incident with Voldemort—there have been three arrests in the Ministry alone. You haven’t even implemented the search for the Dark Mark as yet.”
Fudge nodded. “Yes, of course. I will pass on your concerns.”
* * * *
They had no more crossed the threshold into the atrium when a nondescript wizard in dark robes, brushed up against Draco and they both disappeared with a rush of magic. Harry shared a grim look with Dumbledore and then turned on Fudge. “Cornelius.”
“I didn’t… I promise, Lord Potter, that I did not authorize this! The Unspeakables are separate from both the general policies of the Ministry and the DMLE.”
Harry stalked back towards the bank of lifts and wasn’t surprised to see them all locked down. He cursed under his breath in Parseltongue and then tilted his head slightly as he considered the problem. He had a few options available to him and none of them were going to be particularly well-received by the people who had invited Draco for a conversation. Draco’s magic surged briefly against his and then was immediately subdued again. Indicating that his bondmate had been restrained in some manner. Probably a magical suppression collar; Unspeakables favored those.
He was vibrating with fury, and knew that his magic was flaring out in what was probably a horrific display. Dumbledore was trying to force his way past the security charms that had activated on the lifts.
Harry withdrew both of his wands with a flick of his wrists, walked to the center of the area, and started to cast banishing charms straight through the floor. The result being that people and objects that might be in his way scattered away from the area he was casting, sixteen floors deep. He ignored the questions, the Aurors, Dumbledore, and even Amelia Bones as he cast. When he was finished clearing his way, he cast a broad, powerful piercing hex through the building all the way to the basement.
The hole he made wasn’t big enough for a grown man to drop through but that didn’t matter. He had no intention of dropping. He stowed his wands, shot Fudge a dark, angry look and then he shifted. Taking on the form of his animagus form so quickly and fluidly that he was a blur—he disappeared into the hole with a flick of his long black body. He swirled down the hole he created, pooling much of his mass on each floor as he passed to keep from injuring himself but no one but him would know that—he was moving too fast for most of those who witnessed it to even guess what he was.
As he passed through the last opening, he shifted again and when he landed on his feet he was human once more. Both wands drawn, he twisted in a rush of movement and robes then stunned the fourteen Unspeakables that had gathered around the hole in response to the magical discharge. Fury boiled in his gut and without Draco there to touch and calm his magic—it went wild.
Not even the sudden burst of phoenix song, indicating that the Headmaster had found a way down to them put a damper on the feral response of his magic. He stalked down the hall leading towards a large vault where experimental magic was researched because he knew that’s where his lover had been taken. They had taken him there in the future timeline. Harry had nearly killed himself that day trying to get to his partner and the head of the Unspeakables had been encouraged to take his own life to avoid being Kissed.
His magic lashed out repeatedly, his wands glowed at their tips with unrestrained magic as he stunned any wizard or witch that approached him. Distantly, he heard Dumbledore trying to calm him down but he was beyond that. Four wizards were guarding the large black door that lead to the experimental magic wing. Harry paused and tilted his head as he considered them. They were high ranking Unspeakables, trained to shake off stunners and anything standard magic might offer in offense outside of the Unforgiveables. He’d have to kill or maim them horrifically if they wouldn’t listen to reason.
“Lord Potter, we have orders to subdue you and charge you with destruction of property.”
“You are standing between me and my bonded soul mate, I would be well within my rights to kill each and every one of you. He’s committed no crime and experimenting on the bonds of a fated pair is a crime against magic,” Harry returned icily. “You will stand down and get out of my way or the DMLE will be notifying your next of kin where they can pick of what I leave of your bodies.” He paused. “Provided there is enough left to tell the four of you apart.”
“You’re an archmagus!” One of them shouted. “You’re supposed to be on the side of the Light!”
“And you stand between me and my partner in magic, in soul, in heart, and in life.” He leveled his wands at them. “One might question which side you’re on as a result.” All four scattered away, putting away their wands away in a sign of surrender. Harry glared at them. “Curse me in the back and I’ll hunt you until the end of time.”
“You needn’t be concerned about your back,” Dumbledore said clearly from behind him. “Fawkes and I will protect you.”
The implication was clear but Harry didn’t allow himself to relax. “Open this door.”
“It can only be opened from the inside!” Someone shouted from behind him.
Harry quirked one eyebrow. “Headmaster, I would ask you to cast your strongest shield and encourage everyone to get behind it.” People scrambled all around him and he felt magic shift behind him—a dueling shield had been erected. “Reducto!”
The air in the small area shifted and bent as he cast—the explosion was loud and three meter thick granite vault doors burst open in a rain of dust and shards as sharp as glass. The shards tore at his clothes and the exposed skin on his face and hands but he was already moving. He cast several healing charms as he went—healing the little nicks on his face and neck with little thought. Then he cast a broad, powerful cleaning charm over the entire area to prevent samples of his blood from being taken.
Draco was in a small room at the end of a narrow hall, strapped to a chair not unlike what held prisoners in court sessions, a magical suppression collar glowing around his neck. The four hooded Unspeakables in the room scrambled away from Draco, leaving the only one without a hood standing in front of Harry. He was wearing a disruption device that was supposed to hide his face from everyone.
“Croaker,” Harry murmured. “I suggest you send them out of the room.”
Croaker nodded abruptly to his men and they hurried out of the room. “If you’d been reasonable this wouldn’t have been necessary. I watched your meeting with Fudge. You don’t have the right to dictate the terms of how you are associated with the Ministry!”
Harry took in Draco’s dazed, exhausted expression and the small, empty potions vial on the table and his expression darkened. The door behind him slammed shut but not before Dumbledore managed to slip into the room. “If you’d been smart you might have realized that Draco and I are both immune to Veritaserum. All you’ve done is make him ill with this betrayal.”
“I’ve not betrayed anyone. I have a duty to the citizens of magical Britain, Lord Potter to investigate all mysteries and determine if they are safe to be allowed to remain among us.”
“So Draco and I are no longer citizens of magical Britain?” Harry asked softly as he shifted around the room and put himself between his drugged partner and Croaker. “If that is so then we owe the lot of you nothing! We could finish our educations abroad, take our money, and live somewhere without a war brewing every single day because of foolish politics and racism.”
“All we know of archmagus is legend and myth!” Croaker shouted. “How am I to trust you?”
“How am I ever to trust you?” Harry returned evenly. “You attempted to violate my partner’s mind with potions and I’m sure quite a few hexes before you realized he was immune to mind magics. You separated us, subdued his magic, betrayed the faith we placed in the Ministry of Magic. If we aren’t safe here, Croaker, then why should we even remain in Britain? Countries all over the world would throw open their arms to receive us—to accept the help we would offer in the defense of the Light. Magic gave Britain and her people an archmagus pair for the first time since Merlin and how did you chose to respond, Lord Savage?”
Dumbledore gasped in surprise and Savage’s eyes went wide. “Harry, you can see his face?”
“I’ve seen the face of every single Unspeakable I’ve come across since entering the DOM today,” Harry responded carefully. “Even the hooded ones. Magic would never allow anyone to hide from me. Polyjuice potion is useless, glamours are even more so. Disruption masks, magical hoods… none of it will ever be enough to hide from me or Draco.”
“I was doing my job, Lord Potter.”
“Then someone needs to redefine your job,” Harry hissed. He turned, stowed one wand, and used the other to tap out the sequence to remove the collar. It fell from Draco with a thunk and the chains on the chair followed. Malfoy slumped slightly, still dazed and he started to shake as his magic stirred inside him and started to respond the potions he’d been given. “Headmaster, we need Fawkes. Neither one of us are stable enough for long distance apparition and he needs medical help.”
“We have medical staff here,” Savage said quickly.
“Fuck you,” Draco hissed, his hands curling into fists on Harry’s sleeves. “Look what you made him do, you bloody idiot! You’ve exposed us both to people who can’t be trusted.” He stumbled as Harry pulled him out of the chair, his pale skin was wet with sweat, a small trickle of blood was sliding out the side of his mouth.
“Harry, what’s wrong with him?” Albus demanded fiercely.
“Veritaserum might as well be a poison to us,” Harry said, glaring at Savage. “His magic is burning it out now that it’s no longer being suppressed.” He used his wand to vanish the blood. His eye swept around the room and focused on Savage again. “Did you take any blood from him? Samples of his hair? Anything? I warn you, Savage, if you lie to me…”
“We took hair and blood,” Savage admitted. “Not much—we planned to take more after we knew what kind of experiments we were going to conduct. We thought we had more time. It certainly didn’t cross my mind you’d drill a hole through the entire Ministry to get to him.”
“Then you are an idiot,” Harry returned evenly. “I want everything—the blood, the hair, any analysis the team you have assigned as already accomplished. I assume you used a time turner? They’ve had hours with the blood already then. I want the research and then I want the entire team obliviated.”
“Potter you can’t be serious,” Savage complained. “I don’t obliviate my own people!”
“You’re going to obliviate everyone in this building,” Harry returned evenly. “Dumbledore, Bones and Shacklebolt can keep their memories—everyone else including Fudge is going to forget what they saw me do. They’re going to forget that the DOM even took Malfoy at all. I know the building is in lock down because you enacted security protocols to stall the lifts. That means no one has left. You’re going to take care of all of this, Savage, or I swear to Merlin I’ll kill you then I’ll cast a broad spectrum memory charm over this entire building that will wipe out weeks of memories.” Harry banished the security chair against a wall roughly and conjured another more comfortable one for his partner. “Headmaster, would you retrieve Poppy? I’m not sure we should risk moving him even with Fawkes.”
“Of course,” Dumbledore stilled and stared pointedly at Savage. “Sir, I can’t, in good faith, leave you alone with them. I believe you have work to do yourself.” Savage started to protest and Albus lifted a hand for silence. “He’ll kill you, Tobias. Don’t doubt it because I don’t. No law made by magic or man would seek to punish him for it.”
He prodded the Unspeakable out of the room as he called for Fawkes. Amelia Bones, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Cornelius Fudge were hovering closest to the door. “Amelia, I have need of parchment and a quill.” It was quickly produced. He wrote a small missive that would guarantee that Poppy would allow Fawkes to bring her directly to him though the mediwitch hated traveling by phoenix. Fawkes flamed away with the note a few seconds after he finished rolling it. Albus handed the quill back to the Auror who had produced it.
“How is he?” Cornelius asked. “They weren’t separated for long; why does he need a mediwitch?”
“They used a time turner,” Albus said shortly and offered Savage a glare. “We’ve yet to receive a satisfactory answer as to how long Mr. Malfoy has been in their care.”
“Six hours,” Croaker admitted shortly. “We’ve had him for six hours. We didn’t risk more because we were unsure of what kind of bond they might have. We assumed we might have at least eight hours total—we had no idea that Potter would respond so violently.”
“Idiot,” Amelia said shortly. “Potter is the dominant partner in their pairing—a Wild Mage! Without Malfoy to temper him, his magic is positively feral. You’re lucky he was aware enough not to kill any of you.”
Poppy appeared in a burst of flame and glared right at Dumbledore. “What did you let these idiots do to my boys?” she demanded. “They shouldn’t even be here! So soon after their maturation and after what happened before!”
Albus winced but could only nod. “They used a time turner, Poppy. Mr. Malfoy suffered at least six hours of separation but for Mr. Potter barely fifteen minutes passed.”
“You!” Poppy poked the head Unspeakable in the chest without an ounce of fear. “What did you give Lord Malfoy? I want a complete bloody list right now!”
“Veritaserum, six doses—one every hour in the hopes that we could wear down his resistance,” Savage admitted. “I cast an integrity curse on him, an honesty hex, and attempted to cast a compulsion charm on him in an effort to make him answer our questions.” He paused when Poppy hissed. “We took blood and hair samples. Performed several medical scans and forced him to hold a Merlin’s Orb so that we could get an accurate reading on his magical power levels.”
Poppy snorted. “You put a Merlin’s Orb in the hands of an archmagus?” She laughed. “Did it explode?”
“Yes, it did. We had to move into a new room due to the magical backlash. He destroyed a high security magical vault. It was the first test we conducted. We resorted to the magical suppression collar shortly after that and woke him up for the rest.”
“Croaker,” Albus began. “I believe it’s time you start meeting Lord Potter’s demands. He won’t be forgiving if you don’t.”
“What demands?” Fudge questioned. “Croaker! You’d better give him what he wants!”
“Minister, he wants the entire building, including you, obliviated!”
“Fine,” Fudge bit out. “He’s the bloody child of prophecy!” The Minister went white with worry and fear. “Do you want him to leave us? Do you think you can defeat You-Know-Who?”
“Did you do anything else?” Poppy questioned. “Anything at all?” Her gaze narrowed when the Unspeakables around them started to shift. “Tell me!”
“He has impressive Occlumency shields,” Croaker admitted. “I had two different Master Legilimens attempt to break through them.”
Poppy kicked him promptly in the leg and then did it again while the wizard tried to get away from her. “You bastard! You tried to rape the mind of a sixteen year old boy? Albus! Do something about this monster!”
“Oh, I assure you I will,” Albus murmured, his tone precise and deadly. “Amelia, gather a team of Aurors and help the Unspeakables obliviate everyone in the building. Only myself, you and Shacklebolt are immune from this request per Lord Potter. Croaker, retrieve all the information you’ve gathered—including the blood and hair samples. Be prepared to swear an oath on your magic that nothing has been copied or left behind. He won’t accept anything less.” He opened the door. “Boys, I’ve retrieved Poppy.”
“Only her,” Harry snapped. “No one else.”
“Only her,” Albus agreed.
* * * *
Poppy pulled the door behind her shut and flicked her wand to launch the privacy wards she’d been taught in healing school. There was a small table, a security chair, and then a very comfortable chair she felt certain had been conjured in the room. The boys, however, were in a corner in the back of the room—Malfoy was curled in Potter’s lap and a glowing gold shield surrounded them. “May I approach?”
Harry’s gaze flicked to the door. “Will that hold?”
“It’s a privacy ward,” Poppy admitted. “Not a security one. I don’t know a great deal of defensive magic. No one can hear us and Albus is personally guarding the door.”
Harry nodded and the shield around them retreated until only the faint glow of their bond danced over their skin. It was probably the most magical thing Poppy had ever seen. They were beautiful, otherworldly in this state—almost feral, instinctively protecting one another.
Potter stood easily from the floor and carried Malfoy to the chair. He set his partner in it and backed up, two wands immediately appeared in his hands. “I don’t know what all they did to him—but his magic is working overtime.”
“Are you aware of how long they’ve had him here?”
“He said at least six hours,” Harry admitted. “He saw them use the time turner. I could go out there and kill them all.”
“I know, dear,” Poppy murmured as she opened her bag. “What will happen if I give him a neutralizer to get rid of the Veritaserum?”
“It will do what it’s supposed to,” Harry admitted. “And it should calm his magic down.”
Poppy pulled out a vial and Draco allowed her to give it to him—within a few seconds he stopped trembling and his face grew flushed as the potion started to work. “I need to scan your core, Draco.”
“Of course.” Draco nodded and closed his eyes. He relaxed back in the chair, his fingers curling around the end of the arms as she performed the spell.
She relaxed and nodded as she reviewed the results of the charm. “His core is fine—he’s borderline exhausted magically however.”
“I can fix that,” Harry admitted. “But I didn’t want to do it without you in case there was some damage I couldn’t detect.”
“Do it slowly,” Poppy urged. “And not much—perhaps half, let him regain the rest on his own.” She shifted aside. “Do you need to touch to accomplish this?”
“Not necessarily but perhaps in order to control the flow more precisely,” Harry murmured. He put away his holly wand and took up Draco’s hand in his. “Dragon?”
“I want Tobias Savage to suffer,” Draco whispered. “He let two of his people try to break into my mind, Harry. They hammered on me for hours.”
“Your head must hurt,” Harry said, his thumb brushing over the top of Draco’s hand in an effort to calm them both. “Is he a Death Eater?”
“No.” Draco shook his head. “Just a zealot of a different kind—he was convinced before he even got me down here that I was dark and that somehow I’d tricked you into believing I was your partner. He kept asking me how I did it—what dark rituals I must have used to get the power I have. He tried to get me to tell him that I murdered your real partner and took his place. Then when that failed, he asked what I’d done to make you turn from your real partner.”
Harry closed his eyes briefly and swallowed hard. This was one issue they hadn’t had to deal with in the previous timeline. Draco had redeemed himself during the war—spying not for the Order but for the Unspeakables themselves. He’d carried a charmed pardon signed by the Queen throughout the entire war as he had ultimately been in her service.
“Did he say who he thought was my partner?”
“Longbottom was one choice,” Draco said dryly. “Apparently the two of you were only born twelve hours apart and both of you were targeted by Voldemort.”
It wasn’t bad logic, Harry thought, and the Unspeakables weren’t the only ones to think it. Moody and Snape had both thought that Longbottom might be his partner. He ended their connection abruptly, realizing that he’d gone slightly past what Poppy had wanted. “Sorry.”
“It’s quite alright,” Poppy murmured, in a small awed voice. “Your control over wild magic is quite amazing for one your age, Harry. I expect great things as you get older.”
“Many do,” Harry told her dryly and smiled sadly when she sighed. “Can we travel with him?”
“Yes, of course but I believe you have some business to see to before that happens?”
Harry hesitated and focused on Draco. “I need to go out there and make sure Croaker does what we want.”
Draco nodded. “Don’t have him obliviated—if he doesn’t learn from this mistake, he might try to do it again in the future. Just make him take a vow on his life to never share what he knows about us.”
“Sounds good,” Harry murmured. He leaned forward and pressed his mouth against Draco’s—ignoring Poppy’s little tut of disapproval aware that she really didn’t mean it. “I’m starting to agree with your mother, you know? The sooner we announce ourselves formally the safer we will be.”
“Maybe,” Draco allowed. “I’m sure none of them are too fussed to have had the chance to torture a Death Eater’s son.”
“Tobias Savage will pay for this,” Harry whispered against his cheek and then he moved away. “Don’t go anywhere without me, Dragon.”
“Not ever if I have a choice,” Draco murmured.
Harry exited the small room and found that the area around the testing room had thinned out incredibly. Fudge was gone, Croaker was being held at wand point by Dumbledore. Shacklebolt and Bones were on either end of the small hall standing guard. He cleared his throat and they all focused on him.
“Croaker, your options are limited. You can take a vow on your life and magic to never reveal the information you learned here to today. You will also vow to never use the information against Lord Malfoy or myself to further yourself or a political agenda.”
“And my other choice?”
“I can have Dumbledore obliviate you—doing this will insure that you’ll take one of us again to repeat this experiment and then I’ll kill you unless Draco beats me to it.”
“If I accept neither?”
“I’ll just kill you,” Harry said icily. “If you buy into that Boy-Who-Lived bullshit and think I won’t kill you as a result—you’re extremely naïve.” He paused. “If you think anyone in this hall will interfere then you are utterly ignorant of the law. You’ve interfered in the fated soul bond of an archmagus pair, Croaker. Short of the Unforgiveables, my options for punishing you are unlimited.”
Croaker snorted. “A fated soul bond with a that little snake? Dumbledore, you should check this kid for potions and curses. He’s obviously deluded.”
“He’s not the snake you need to worry about,” Harry hissed and the irises of his eyes shifted and reshaped like a snake’s, the tip of his tongue forked and he hissed again causing his black tongue to flick between his lips. Croaker stumbled back and hit the wall. “Make your choice.”
“You’re as dark as that little bastard in there,” Croaker snapped.
“No,” Harry inclined his head. His tongue flicked beguilingly between his lips. “I’m darker and you’d better never forget it.”
Croaker pulled his wand with a shaking hand and cleared his throat. “Dumbledore, neither Shacklebolt nor Bones know my identity.” He waited while the elderly wizard cast a privacy ward and placed his wand tip over his heart. “I, Lord Tobias Melton Savage, do solemnly swear on my life and magic to never reveal in any form the information discovered, revealed, or assumed concerning the archmagus pair of Lord Harry James Potter and Lord Draco Lucius Malfoy with any soul—living or dead for as long as I may live. I further swear to never use the information discovered, revealed, or assumed about the archmagus pair of Lord Harry James Potter and Lord Draco Lucius Malfoy to further myself financially or politically. So Mote It Be.”
Harry watched the extremely thorough vow settle on Savage and nodded his agreement. He pulled his own wand and placed it over his heart. “I swear on behalf of Lord Draco Lucius Malfoy and myself, Lord Harry James Potter, that we will never reveal the identities of any Unspeakable working for the Department of Mysteries as long as they act within the laws set forth by the British Ministry of Magic and never present themselves as a threat to our pair bond. So Mote It Be.”
Croaked stared in horror. “You made a vow on behalf of him? Are you insane? What if he betrays you?”
“Are you so uneducated that you fail to realize that such a betrayal would result in the death of us both?” Harry demanded. “Look, Savage, I don’t know where your prejudices against Draco come from but he is light and good and as moral as any man who has ever lived. He will live his life in the defense of the Light and the people he was born to protect for eternity.”